Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bill Crawford: Time to ridicule leaders?

Good leaders plan ahead.

You find versions of this truism in most leadership bestsellers. In particular, Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" says "begin with the end in mind;" Legendary coach John Wooden's "Wooden on Leadership" says "You must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way;” and Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" says, "Now, the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought."

Even the Bible says so. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" (Luke 14:28-30).

In this context, a comment last month by Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn is intriguing.

"I'm for showing leadership, and for solving a problem," Gunn told a forum sponsored by the Capitol press corps and Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government. The Speaker was talking about his proposal to swap a decrease in state income taxes for an increase in state fuel taxes to fund much needed road and bridge improvements.


Unfortunately, the Speaker's proposal is days late and many dollars short.

The time for a tax swap was three years ago when Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves pushed through his $415 million "Taxpayer Raise Act of 2015," the largest tax cut in Mississippi history. With Reeves' cut now phasing in, there is insufficient cushion in state revenues to afford Gunn's proposed reduction in income taxes.

Talk about not planning ahead, a year after Reeves' plan was adopted, Reeves and Gunn brought in an expert from the Tax Foundation to analyze how to offset revenue losses anticipated from Reeves' cut.

The foundation's Nicole Kaeding made a number of recommendations to offset losses, including, "broadening the tax base by applying sales tax to more items, including legal, accounting, fitness, barber or veterinary services throughout the state." She also recommended indexing tax brackets to inflation. These recommended offsets were not adopted.

Understand, Reeves and Gunn have known for years that tax revenues to pay for road and bridge repairs must be increased. The Mississippi Economic Council highlighted this need when it released a comprehensive study by its Transportation Infrastructure Task Force in December 2014.

Good leaders would have kept this end in mind when considering tax legislation. They would have made these calculations before starting their tax battles. And, Reeves, who was so insistent on passing massive tax cuts during an election year, would have worked to find the best way, not in having his own way.

Instead, unable to finish the needed financial foundation for transportation infrastructure, they leave us with this kind of yaya leadership:

"I am a conservative. I am a Republican. I am not for raising anybody's taxes. But I don't stop there. I'm for showing leadership, and for solving a problem." – Gunn.

"I am a Republican. I am a conservative. I am against raising gas taxes." – Reeves.

Ridicule now warranted.


Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Crawford evidently spent too many years in the Legislature (and a government) that was run by Democrats - and lost his Republican thought process.

The fact that the Legislature cut taxes is not the problem. It may be that they have not cut spending appropriately - there are many, many expenditures that could be eliminated (not cut, eliminated) with the savings used to pay for these things that are appropriate uses of taxpayer money such as the most recent demand for infrastructure spending.

Want to make a list: take out your Yellow Pages (yes, I know that is an archaic document, but they do actually still print it) and every time you find companies that provide services that are the same as what a government agency has within its webpage as a "service" you have found a good place to start considering.

Forestry Commission - provides advice and 'assistance' to landowners to manage their timberlands. So do many private individual companies and the large lumber manufacturers. Also, supposedly provides fire fighting assistance in all 82 counties through its office in each county, but VFD exist in multiple areas throughout the counties. As an aside, the MFC has three times as many vehicles as it has employees.

Another area to examine, Boards and Commissions - exist in most every profession possible. Recently the Legislature established a board to license Interior Designers which I am sure was necessary to protect all the state's taxpayers from getting bad color advice for their living room walls. We should all thank them for their help in this area of concern.

Duplicative operations: Dept of Public Safety patroling the highways for traffic violations and safety issues. All the while MDOT has its own division doing the same thing with its cops checking on overweight trucks along with having taken over PSC's cops that checked to make sure all common carriers were properly operating. Not to even touch the ever expanding community college campuses, and their trying to copy their older brothers and sister senior colleges with their athletic programs.

Don't even get into IT issues - maintaining ITS as a state agency should end, especially considering its inability to stay within 20 years of where technology is today. Spending $20MM on a new "state of last decade's art" facility was just one more of its inability to operate in a government setting. Inability to standardize government agencies computer and software purchases, duplicating hundreds if not thousands of unneeded licenses for software, all could be addressed by having a replacement for ITS with one or two employees overseeing a few private contracts that can lead to consolidation of purchases and save millions.

The list can go on, and on, and on. Nothing wrong with Reeves' tax cutting program Bill. The problem is that the spending that is continuing should be reduced. That may touch close to home for many including those that write columns demanding more spending and less cutting, along with many, many more common folks. But it is a much better solution to addressing the state's needs and its problems.



Anonymous said...

While I agree with 10:46 am that the MS legislature lacks , not only a sense of priorities but anything resembling a long range plan, both 10:46 am and Mr. Gunn seem unaware of Mississippi's per capita income of only c.$34000. The vast majority of Mississippians didn't get a tax cut.


What the majority of Mississippians got is an increase in local taxes and sales taxes and a continually deteriorating infrastructure. And, Congress has taken away the deductions that helped our beleaguered middle class.

Paying even $50 to $100 a tank for gas is pocket change or a minor annoyance to those making over $250000 a year, but it is "real" money to those making minimum wage or even twice that a year.

Frankly, Mississippi's legislature is poorly educated in economics, finance and taxes and have zero sense of representing ALL the people, not just some.

The legislature does know that the wealthiest in this State line their pockets in all sorts of ways and not just at election times. The wealthy a social benefits and " deals" of all sorts to them. All one has to do is look at a legislator's life style vs his income to see that is true. The legislators also know that the majority of Mississippians are so poorly educated that they can be easily conned.



Anonymous said...

Good stuff 10:46, but the profession regulating boards and commissions pay for themselves with fees from their members, not taxes. In fact, the legislature occasionally raids their cash. This is not to say that all these boards are needed though and certainly some of these go overboard.

Anonymous said...

Government doesn't have a tax problem; it has a spending problem.

11:17 said...

11:17 - those boards and commission do collect fees from their 'members'. But just because they claim to be "self-sustaining" is not the issue. Yes, they do collect, and they do spend. All in the name of government. Questions are: How do they spend? Couldn't they coordinate services and spend less? If they did, should the savings be those of the "board" or of the state? Does the state need the services, or does the profession want it to protect their own personal businesses?

I would contend that the state should receive the money, and when there is actually a need for some part of the services of the board, appropriate the appropriate amount of money to provide them. The rest belongs to the state. Two hundred or more individual offices, with two hundred or more individual secretaries, and two hundred or more conference rooms. And internet providers. And copy machines. Etc. Etc.

This "we pay for it ourselves" is all crap. The truth is, you pay for it to keep others out. Licensing barbers? Hell - if you don't like your haircut, in a couple of weeks it will grow back, and you can go somewhere else. Same theory applies to most of the organizations. If the state really needs the board, then consolidate their expenses.

(And, there are many boards and commissions that are not professional organizations - that do not do as you suggest in "paying for themselves")

Anonymous said...

Mississippians must destroy all the sick, good ole' boy "Bobs" ( video below ) in order to get the spending going where it should.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZARAldXlSyA

Anonymous said...

record tax revenues, record spending

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, 10:46. And there are too many counties, school districts, universities, legislators and so on. Our great leaders can’t seem to reduce anything but taxes. So your solution is to let roads and bridges go to ruin. Coulda woulda shoulda is not a substitute for taking care of business.

Anonymous said...

Boards, commissions, and bureaus exist for patronage appointments.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of Mississippians didn't get a tax cut.

What the majority of Mississippians got is an increase in local taxes and sales taxes.

There you go again. You can't prove either claim.

Anonymous said...

@10:46

Actually most of the forestry crews have been cut to the bones or worse. As a VFD chief, dumping the state’s responsibilities on our folks is ridiculous. First we’re volunteers with day jobs; which means we’re taking food off our table with every call answered. 2nd. Most VFD’s in this state have a budget of less than 15k. Maybe spend more time with the VFD’s before unloading an additional burdon on them. .

Anonymous said...

@ 11:16am, 11:17am, 2:05pm, and 8:47pm - all of you are right and made great points.

10:46am and a few others want to still believe the Phil Bryant/Tate Reeves "Fiscal Conservative Tax Plan" is going to work, when in reality all they did was copy the political playbooks of Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Sam Brownback in Kansas. They want to believe that spending is the central problem to Mississippi's legislative dysfunction.

We know what happened to Louisiana when they cut taxes and cut spending, it affected essential services and how the state was run overall.

We know what happened in Kansas when they cut taxes and cut spending, it affected essential services and how the state was run overall.

Both Kansas and Louisiana, had credit ratings decrease, reductions in force, and property tax increases passed down to the local levels.

Spending is not an issue, because Bryant and Reeves have decreased spending. But, that will have negative residuals.

The trickle down affects will be losing more state employees, who are already underpaid. That will go to less people paying into PERS, which is starting to show major issues with the amount of people leaving state government due to retirement or young people leaving due to the poor pay.

Now they've finished another legislative session where the biggest accomplishment was changing abortion laws in this state? They did not pass anything that would fix the infrastructure in this state, they did not do anything to prepare the future workers in this state, they didn't do anything to help the senior citizens in this state? They focused on some archaic abortion laws!?

This state is in poor fiscal shape, by August our credit rating will go down again and its safe to say the rainy day fund will be nil by Christmas. By July 2020 the state will be $1 billion in the red.

Choose wisely on who you want your next Governor to be?

Anonymous said...

5:55 is long in the tooth but offers no solutions. The notion that PERS -- which KF has been reporting on for over a decade -- "is starting to show major issues" belies an astounding lack of insight into the problems with PERS.

Anonymous said...

spending is not the issue?

record spending is not the issue?

if spending is not the issue then why did the most growth in those states occur when spending was much, much less?

the reason is because spending is the issue. Government does not create prosperity, it removes it, by design. The amount of removal can not continue to grow through time using movement of the prosperity goal posts.

By the way, the more people that are dependent upon government (lobbyists, legislators, supervisors, mayors, civil servants, law enforcement, educators, anyone participating in PERS,etc) the more services become "essential". The more people that work for government, the less taxable income is available, so those private workers have to pay exponentially more in taxes to cover the spending.

So, if your paycheck is based on the taxes paid by others, you have zero credibility when speaking of taxing and spending because all you are doing is wanting protections that the private sector doesn't have.

Anonymous said...

5:55 am I admire your courage in mentioning abortion. But, no one is mentioning how much our success in preventing abortion is costing us other the legal costs that could be spent elsewhere.

MS has the highest child abuse rate in the Nation.

MS has the highest infant mortality rate and is in top five of death in childbirth.

MS has the 3rd highest death rate of children.

MS has the highest rate of premature births.( we don't want to talk about the percentage that will have developmental disabilities, do we? )

MS has the highest rate of unwed mothers.

The number of children in foster care in MS continues to increase.

It seems to me that the very same people who complain loudly about the cost of welfare and Medicaid and who blame single mothers for crime are the very same who love babies BEFORE they are born.

The effects of our success at forcing women who don't want a child or can't care for children to have children is our dirty little secret.

There's a documentary , " Jackson" , that MPB wouldn't broadcast. We shouldn't know about the kind of continued " care" children get from pro-life "clinics".

I hate that any woman would ever have to contemplate an abortion or ever have to worry one second about adequately caring for her child.

We should start with preventing unwanted pregnancies and if we fail, we should damn sure give the baby a real chance.



Anonymous said...

Gunn and Reeves are both clowns...that is all..thx

Anonymous said...

@ May 7, 2018 at 7:16 AM

The notion that PERS -- which KF has been reporting on for over a decade -- "is starting to show major issues" belies an astounding lack of insight into the problems with PERS.

No one is disregarding KF's reporting, the matter is now tangible and that's all that was originally implied.

So, if your paycheck is based on the taxes paid by others, you have zero credibility when speaking of taxing and spending because all you are doing is wanting protections that the private sector doesn't have.

Please stop with that capitalist selective outrage. Mississippi gives out corporate welfare like a grab bag and the only one that complains about it is Chris McDaniels.

As an American citizen that has worked in the public and private sector, I have plenty of credibility when it comes to speaking on this subject.

No one is saying that government is the answer to solving all of Mississippi's finances, but someone has to maintain the household functions of running this state, because it clearly cannot do it itself.

"Record spending" says Tate Reeves to scare the cynics. Stop buying into that little dictators talking points.

Anonymous said...

@May 6, 2018 at 10:46 AM

"Another area to examine, Boards and Commissions - exist in most every profession possible. Recently the Legislature established a board to license Interior Designers which I am sure was necessary to protect all the state's taxpayers from getting bad color advice for their living room walls. We should all thank them for their help in this area of concern."

And you just showed why this needs to exist. "Interior Designers" are not "Interior Decorators". Interior Designs are "Interior Architects" and must be licensed to do commercial spaces, which is what a majority of Interior Designers do... Residential Designers do not have to be licensed. So perhaps the need to educate the public about what they really do should be part of the certification process...

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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