Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bill Crawford: Reeve's tax cuts are risky for teachers and retirees.

State economist Darrin Webb projects state general fund revenues will fall for the third consecutive year. That's unusual. According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, declines of just two years in a row "have only occurred four previous times since 1970."
Jeff Amy with the Associated Press in an excellent analysis of the Mississippi's economy said, "State spending this year is roughly $800 million behind where it would have been if spending had kept pace with inflation since 2010." He said some of the shortfall comes "from hundreds of millions in tax cuts."
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves liked that. "For us to have enacted the largest tax cut in state history and still expect that we're actually going to collect flat revenue year-over-year," Reeves told Amy, "I think that says an awful lot about the direction that we're trying to send our government in being fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent."
Uh, the historic tax cuts have yet to fully kick in. Nevertheless, Reeves' comment is bad news for community colleges, schools, universities, and agencies hoping tight budgets will go away.
But, it is terrible news for teachers and state retirees.
No budget growth means no state pay increases for teachers. It's already hard for many schools to attract and keep good teachers. With no state raises, they won't, except in better off districts able to increase local property taxes.
For state retirees, no budget growth has a more indirect impact. Flat budgets for colleges, agencies, etc., will cause cuts in public employment. As inflation driven expenses eat into their stagnant budgets, agencies only option will be to cut jobs. That means fewer employees paying into the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS) over time.
Why is that bad for retirees?
Last September, PERS board chair Lynn Fitch called a special meeting to look at the long-term health of the retirement system. PERS' unfunded pension liabilities have hovered around 40% (a funded level of 60%) for several years, drawing negative comments from national credit ratings agencies. In her role as State Treasurer, that is a concern for Fitch.
At the meeting PERS Executive Director Pat Robertson presented a new computer model that could predict future PERS funding levels based on changes in key factors such as investments, number of retirees, and number of public employees. One scenario run at the meeting included above average investment returns, current retirement trends, but a slight 0.25% annual decrease in the number of public employees. The model projected PERS' unfunded pension liabilities would increase to near 50%.
If Reeves' fiscal plan is for built-in tax cuts over the next 10 years to keep state spending flat, this scenario will become a reality. Then, any bad investment year(s) or surge in retirees (likely with flat spending) would put PERS and retirees' pensions in jeopardy.
Note: Few board members publicly express concerns about PERS financial health. But at this meeting the newest member, former State Insurance Commissioner George Dale, spoke up saying he has concerns. Dale spent 11 years in the Moss Point school system before his 32 years as insurance commissioner so he knows how government works. If he has concerns, retirees should pay attention.
Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

I’m all for responsible and transparent government, but Lt. Governor Fart In A Suit is awful. Truly awful.

Anonymous said...

No Tater for me! Not then, not now, not ever.

Anonymous said...

Then I will offset your vote. I'm all for those politicians that ran on a platform of cutting taxes AND at the same time cutting spending. State govt has doubled in spending over the past decade and putting a stop to it -despite the whining of those who may no longer be on the state's payroll, or who don't see a continual growth in their budgets - is fine with me. Tater wants to run for Governor - he can have my household's votes.

Anonymous said...

You can complain all you want about Tate, but here is the deal. He is doing exactly what he said he would do, lower taxes, spending, and borrowing. Folks stood in line for hours to vote for his agenda and will do so again. Tate's agenda is to spend less on teachers, retirees, bridges, colleges, mental health, Medicade, etc..... this is what Mississippians want. We all want less of them no good government services. And we all want those corporate tax cuts cause that puts money back in our pockets, right?! Tate has gotten millions in campaign donations from corporations and lobbyists for these efforts. And myself, an average taxpayer, I am benefiting everyday from Tate's agenda. I have not received a tax cut, but I love junky schools, bridges, teachers. I'm an average Mississippi, i like to see my state struggle. It just Gives me that ole time feeling, of dirt roads and third grade education. I miss those good ole days and I'm voting to go back.

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ 1:04 Yup-

Anonymous said...

1:04 -- Aside from pure ideology, why do you want to cut state spending?

Mississippi's spending is low by comparison to other states, including red states with much stronger growth. There is zero evidence going even lower will make us economically competitive. The opposite happened in Kansas; taking a cleaver to taxes set it back a decade in growth. Because companies that want rock bottom taxes and unskilled labor go to Mexico, not Mississippi.

I guess I'm just wondering, what does the end game look like for MSGOPers? What prosperous state will Mississippi look more like when taxes, education spending, infrastructure spending, etc. are cut even further?

Did you think that far ahead? Or is this just something you want to do because ... well, um ... it's what conservatives do, right?

Anonymous said...

Tater wants the lottery more than anyone, it's going to save his political life. Without it these no growth tax cuts he has championed will be like poison to any campaign he decides to mount.

Anonymous said...

I agree that teachers need salary increases but in all fairness, teachers do get pay increases in the form of step increases every single year, just for surviving. They can also get increases by becoming National Board teachers ($6,000/yr) or get a graduate degree.

Defined benefit plans like PERS are archaic. We should go to a 401K system with the Government contributing some match.

Anonymous said...

Hard to believe Bill Crawford was almost a Republican nominee for Congress. That guy is to the left of Ronnie Musgrove.

Anonymous said...

Bill Crawford loves him some government.

Anonymous said...

I’d love to know Tater’s opinion on the state flag. Is he in favor of keeping it or does he think it should replaced? I know, his opinion is that “we voted on this in 2001” and “it’s up to the voters”. But WHERE DO YOU STAND, Tate? Spineless!

Plain ol' Catfish said...

Bill's opinion is not popular on here, we get it - he's a newfound "socialist" "communist" "liberal" based on the rhetoric sold by the Mississippi G.O.P to its blind followers.

However, Bill is not wrong. Mississippi is about to be upside down on the car they purchased from Bryant & Reeves Used Auto Sales.

They both, Reeves & Bryant, decided to purchase and sell the Tea Party Specials, that were manufactured, produced and sold in Louisiana and Kansas.

It sounded great. They would cut your taxes, and you will have more money to spend on yourselves and your households. However the tax cuts were passed did not benefit the income brackets that a majority of Mississippians fall in. They also said they were going to cut intrusive government, that they were going to cut cost. What they failed to mention was that they were going to cut essential services that many Mississippians. They failed to mention that they were eliminating jobs in that same breath, jobs that benefit Mississippi's economy as a whole.

Granted people hate government - but they love to receive government services for themselves, whether its SS, Medicaid, Medicare, good roads, good bridges, clean water, clean restaurants all this benefit our quality of life in this state. Additionally, those workers are beneficial to Mississippi, because they keep a majority of their dollars in Mississippi.

We should never become dependent on the government to shore employment, but it should provide a floor to employment numbers in a states economy. We can easily gauge the numbers of government jobs that contributes to a states employment numbers, and set a percentage to how much state workers account for overall employment levels.

The Bryant & Reeves Tea Party Specials will now cost the state more to fix, than before, due to neglecting essential parts of our states infrastructure. You know the old saying, the longer you ignore a problem, the more it will cost you down the road. Unless you junk it and start over from scratch, but you still end up losing out on your initial investment.

Wit the cost savings measures sold by Bryant & Reeves, the state is literally upside down on its current investment. You have a PERS Fund that lost a good chunk a change during Reeves tenure as Treasurer, because he hedged a portion of the fund on the housing market at that time. State workers in turn had to increase their contributions to shore up those funds. Additionally, that was the last time state workers received a cost of living increase. So they actually did not gain anything.

Here we are 10 years later and it is about to get worse. State employment is no longer attractive, you cannot become vested until 8 years in, promotional opportunities are nil, health care benefits are expensive, and of course the pay is abysmal. Mississippi currently has more civil servants eligible for retirement than they have with more than 10 years of service. And once again, state workers in Mississippi are going on 11 years without a cost of living increase.

Its so bad, that Mississippi is now costing state workers in the contiguous states money, because the salary disparity is around 30%, they depend on our numbers to set their salary's as well.

With so many state workers eligible to retire, we do not have the numbers to maintain the fund. Even if the legislature, give state workers a cost of living increase, we still do not have the numbers to maintain the retirement fund, unless they give a hefty increase to offset the contribution increase that will be required in the near future. I say you will see the legislature break down and have state workers increase their contributions to the PERS fund, within the next two legislative sessions.

The best way to prevent this from getting any worse, elect anyone not named Tate Reeves.

Anonymous said...

I understand that no one like taxes.
What I don't understand is how anyone can still imagine that tax cuts will automatically stimulate the economy and create jobs and reduces government.
Your source should be historical .gov stats not some politician or political pundit. Start with noting how the gap between interest on money borrowed and interest on money saved has widened. Start by nailing down tax cuts and find out how the one time there was an improvement was different.
And, I don't understand why you haven't noticed that how the government at any level spends money is critical. What is it about increased debt , continuing venture capital boondoggles, and deteriorating infrastructure you don't get?
What is it about the stagnant or decreasing median incomes and increasing costs for you to get television reception, talk on a phone and buy a car you don't understand or that you are working more hours for the same money?
You might note that government cuts result in a decrease in government jobs and salaries. Also remember two traditional means of getting out of poverty have been to join the military and to become a teacher. Those are government jobs.
What tax cuts have caused are recessions and a growing gap between the " haves" and " the have nots".
They also result in a tax shifts which hurts the middle class and deepens poverty.
You might notice that the increased profits in corporations are being used to buy other companies and create more " too big to fails".
You can track the continuing increase in top corporate salaries and bonuses versus the median wage.
You might also want to pay attention to the bills you receive and note an increasing number of small taxes on those bills and bother to find out who gets those taxes.
You will be increasing my income if the GOP tax bill goes through by $60000 a year minimum, but the middle class erases what ever income tax decrease with deductions removed and growing costs of goods and services. But, I'm not short sighted and while my worth is more than I need to maintain a very nice lifestyle, I actually care about my children and grandchildren. We are economically creating an oligarchy and destroying capitalism.
We live in a complex world and being simple minded is hurting us. It's the deadly details , people.

Anonymous said...

Has this guy ever seen a tax he didn't like? He's clearly only been on the receiving end of the trough.

Anonymous said...

@7:11, thanks for answering the question I almost asked. I wondered if this was the same Bill Crawford who ran as a Republican 20 years ago. He seems better suited for the Jackson Free Press, although I guess his columns check off the diversity box on here.

Anonymous said...

7:28, well put.

Anonymous said...

Your header on this one King should be:

Crawford Admits PERS is Ponzi Scheme

Anonymous said...

You have a PERS Fund that lost a good chunk a change during Reeves tenure as Treasurer, because he hedged a portion of the fund on the housing market at that time.


Anonymous said...

@2:39 stood in line for hours to vote for Tate and his agenda?? lol. Maybe a state senator waited with a lobbyist for an hour at Char. Those are the only people that vote for Tate's agenda.

Anonymous said...

Most retirees and public employees are teachers, police officers and firemen. They should be worried about their retirement funds, very worried. Increase funding by both the employer and employee over time. It was the legislature that created this problem in the late 90's by giving extra benefits without additional funding. The got them some votes though. The swamp extends to Mississippi.

Anonymous said...


I skimmed your entire comment because the hypocrisy of your opening statements.

You state that one's source should be ".gov stats" yet you fail to use such information in your rhetoric.

It is not complex and is very, very simple. The more money that people have to spend, the more money that will be spent. That's economics. Removing money from the process via taxes does absolutely zero positive to that end. That is why tax is a necessary evil.

Tax is simply for the "goodwill" of the government. To provide for money for what's necessary and proper to run the government. With that factual legal point in mind, it should be easy to reason that taxes do nothing but to serve that end.

It doesn't take statistics, politicians, Popes, Kings, Presidents, lawyers, priests, teachers, CEOs, pretend-a-experts, media or anyone to else to figure out that the more money Johnny Citizen has in his pocket, the bigger the hole that money will burn.

There is absolutely zero correlation or causal effect between "tax cuts" and recession. It is completely antithesis to the common sense understanding of how anything financial works.

It's even more stupid to suggest that tax cuts cause a widening gap among classes.

Taxes are not zero sum, unless written law makes it so. Just because one person pays less or more taxes based on their income, doesn't mean a person in another class pays an amount above or below relative to the first. In other words, just because "rich" people get a tax cut, doesn't mean that hurts poor people and vice-versa.

No, reading your comment, you aspire to income redistribution. Your comments are in the guise of income is everybody's and some people are getting more than their share. You give little credence to those who earn it.

I'll give you a hint to what is wrong with all things modern. When you place concentration and action on the extremes, the middles get lost. Apply that however you wish.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ November 13, 2017 at 7:28 AM

My sentiments exactly - well said!

Anonymous said...

This would all be solved by not having the 13th check. Use an annual return average of 3% and that's it. Right now they use over 6.5%. That may be ok for this year but look back at previous years. We as taxpayers will have to make up the difference by not being conservative about payouts. Every time the state has increased the payment to the fund by cities they have increased taxes to make up the new increase for employees.

While I'm at it please increase the gas tax by at least 5 cents and pave some of these roads. You will pay more than the annual $48 annual increase in tax in car repairs.

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ November 13, 2017 at 10:05 AM

You said, "Just because one person pays less or more taxes based on their income, doesn't mean a person in another class pays an amount above or below relative to the first. In other words, just because "rich" people get a tax cut, doesn't mean that hurts poor people and vice-versa."

Actuality it does, because there will be a shift on who has to pay for those tax cuts. Because they are not cutting spending across the board and cutting taxes for everyone. Trump said he wanted 20 new ships added to the Naval fleet while trying to pass tax cuts at the same time!? There's no way you can add new ships without some increase on revenues somewhere?

As far income distribution, hell it has already happened and its been completely upward. Two things have happened since Reagan, the wealthy have acquired more of the wealth and the poverty has increased. That's income redistribution.

@7:28am is right. The devil is in the details, but people in Mississippi are still assuming trickle-down economics works when clearly it doesn't work for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Here's what gets me about all this. Every one of you pro or con is talking about taxes high or low. That's not the issue. The issue is whether any of this works or not. That answer is simple. It doesn't. These R's came in here in the 90's and said they were going to do all these great things. They haven't. And before you nerds start with "at least it's better than when you d's ran things" just stop, you sound like an idiot. This crowd has had it's chance, it's failed and there is a change coming. Count on it. Signed, a D aobut to get back in power

Anonymous said...

Actually @5:30 you sound like the idiot.

Anonymous said...

6:21, trust me, tates your man, you can stop looking

Anonymous said...

6:57 - Reeves hedged a good portion of PERS when he was Treasurer? Bullshit. Reeves was ine member of 10 on PERS board and couldn't -if he wanted to - control where funds were invested. Also, PERS didn't hedge in housing. You want to throw out crap like that, be prepared to back it up.

And while you are at it, name me the 'essential services' that have received budget cuts from your Bryant/Reeves cabel. Plenty of reductions in increases, but can't find any truly 'essential' services that have been reduced.

Anonymous said...

10:05 am I didn't post the historical statistical data due to length and time it would take but also because people usually are better persuaded when they "see" it for themselves.

Aside from that, your economic view is overly simplistic . You completely ignore supply and demand. You ignore costs of living and how the percentage of income taxed affects those people don't have discretionary income compared to those who have excesses in discretionary income. The number of people able to purchase goods and services in a society matter and not all taxes are the same or affect people in the same way and percentage taxed becomes artificial.

You ignore, as well, that the success of a Nation is about socio-economics not just economics so it behooves you to see how a thriving society differs from an oligarchy and why. You need to study the socio-economics of failed societies.

You overlook how the rich are different in how they spend money. They don't buy as many mass produced goods and when they do, they can benefit from economies of scale. They don't go as often to restaurants because they have a cook. They don't need a florist as they have a green house and gardener. These are a few of thousands of examples but simple ones where the number of jobs created by spending is not very big. The wealthy are spending money on assets that grow their wealth , not yours. The rich try to spend on assets like fine art, jewels, gold, classic automobiles. The purchase and sale of existing tangible assets don't grow an economy. They don't use airlines, they use their plane.

What stimulates an economy more ? Goods or services?

Let me try to simplify more for you...

Only 1 million people in the entire world have enough money to qualify for the death tax break currently being considered . We do have 10 million " millionaires" in the U.S. but we already got our death tax break. To give a break to those over with estates over $11 million also means you are giving it not to the spouse who isn't affected now, but to children who haven't earned the money. It's unearned dollars. That's how dynasties are formed and over time, dynasties kill democracies and republics. Why do you think we'll be different?

There is no equality in taxes if you are taxed not just on income, but on purchases of necessities at a level where financial security and personal health become unsustainable. The top 1% are not at risk and they already have so many tax loopholes that they don't pay taxes in the same percentage of personal income as the working class if they pay taxes at all and enjoy more privileges in this nation because we have a freely chosen government and a military and law enforcement and laws to protect their wealth.

But, the bottom line, is you don't care about the future, you don't think of long term consequences of your personal greed to future generations. Ask yourself what you have built or created that will be here in 100 years and what will " here" be like? And, you need the imagination to see that your grandchildren will pay far more than you took or could give. You prospered at their expense and they won't admire you for that if they survive the damage you caused to what they will know, was once a great Nation.

Italy and Greece with their " nation states" should have given us a hint. The Holy Roman Empire and other monarchies should have given us a hint.

You could also look at comtemporary writings like The Strongman's Playbook to get a hint of the dangers.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other sympathetic groups you can name that this is bad for? Sheesh. We rant and rave about cutting the size of government and reducing taxes and spending. Someone does it, and everyone is surprised that government is going to have less money to spend? People are idiots. Maybe now our legislature will be forced to find places to cut missions that aren't critical, waste that is rampant, and excess employee counts. Lower taxes. Smaller government. Don't sit around the coffee table talking about how we need it and then moan when it happens.

Anonymous said...

Your inferiority complex November 15, 2017 at 7:26 AM is staggering. Seek help ASAP.

Anonymous said...


10:05am here.

Perhaps you should read your own overly simplistic opinion and remove the rose colored glasses. Once you remove the overuse of logical fallacy from your commentary, your comment just has no legs. I love a good discussion and will very easily discuss things openly and with good faith, but I will also make you look even more stupid if you continue to obfuscate by pretending to hide behind facts that don't exist.

Besides, you provided better argument FOR my original comment than I can possibly provide. Hell, I copied your post and sent it to other economic professors and not one could just what you advocated in your rhetoric.

In my original comment, I did not chide you for your lack of using "historical statistical data", I was chiding you for incorrectly asserting your incorrect opinion as fact of such data. Mississippi and the Federal government have had record income, period.

The spending has increased exponentially in modern time, period.

Any discussion about fairness of taxation is moot when record income meets record spending. Again, using extremes as a basis for argument is just ignorant.

To answer your loaded question (just another logical fallacy), neither goods nor services "stimulate" an economy. Assuming, and I realize that any assumptions in your regard is an exercise in futility.... but assuming you are referring to an economy that is struggling, neither goods nor services stimulate. It's not the law of supply or demand. It's the law of supply AND demand. The supply follows the demand, not the other way around, except for fads.

Now, maybe you are assuming that our economy is flush in funds (and probably would be if taxes were lowered all over) and had monies, then the answer to your loaded question would be goods. Pretty simple.

I really do hope that the tapping on your keyboard makes for some great music and personally provides you with dramatic entertainment, otherwise that's a lot of tapping for nothing. And, hell, I felt that way with this comment after about the 10th word, so I turned on the app that makes music from each keystroke.... ahhh... that's what you were doing. I get it now.

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