Sunday, November 14, 2021

Bill Crawford: Does government have bandwidth to spend federal billions properly?

Should you trust government to properly spend the billions of dollars in federal relief money flooding into the state?  

“That’s the question I’m asking every night as I go to bed,” State Auditor Shad White told Mississippi Today writer Geoff Pender last August.

There are two parts to the question. Will government spend it effectively and will government spent it honestly?

White particularly knows Mississippi has trouble doing the latter, having busted dishonest spending across the state. As for effective spending, that takes coordination and planning. White’s take on that was, “Do they have the bandwidth to spend the money properly? I think the answer is: the jury is still out.”  

The American Rescue Plan provided approximately $5 billion to address impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic plus some infrastructure improvements – $1.8 billion for the legislature to spend on premium pay for essential workers, to address economic harms to businesses, and to invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure; $1.6 billion to public schools; nearly $1 billion to cities and counties; $500 million for workforce childcare; and $429 million to universities and colleges. 

The new American Jobs Plan will provide another $4.46 billion – $3.3 billion for road and bridge repairs, $429 million for water infrastructure, $223 million for public transportation, $100 million for broadband coverage and access, $99 million for airport maintenance and upgrades, $19 million for wildfire protection, and $16 million for cybersecurity.

There are obvious overlaps. 

Coordinating all this spending among cities, counties and state agencies would be a herculean job. The appropriate official to take the lead on this would be the state’s chief executive. Or he could appoint a blue ribbon panel to do so as Gov. Haley Barbour did with Katrina recovery funds. 

But, Gov. Tate Reeves appears to have little interest in providing such leadership, saying only that he may include recommendations on the $1.8 billion in his upcoming budget proposal.

Late last month Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann finally moved to address how the $1.8 billion controlled by the legislature will be handled by appointing a select committee to recommend spending. But that doesn’t fully address coordination with cities, counties, and agencies receiving direct funding.

The House has yet to take action.

Meanwhile, a critical shortage of hospital nurses looms. Chief nursing officers from 36 hospitals across the state have begged Reeves and state legislators to quickly authorize American Rescue Plan funds for essential pay bonuses for front line nurses to head off the crisis. 

Some cities and counties have already authorized such payments for their essential workers. But the state can’t until the Legislature acts. And that takes a special session which only Reeves can call. 

Earlier this year Reeves told nurses he was open to that. He said the same thing to medical marijuana advocates. Then, last week he back-tracked, saying he has no immediate plans to call a special session. However, it was reported that he is just waiting for legislators to cave in to his demands on the marijuana bill.


I reiterate what I wrote last week -- don’t trust government. 

“And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you,” – Deuteronomy 6:18.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.



Anonymous said...

Appoint Baby Chowke's sister to manage this. She has lots of experience with spending our money.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Shad will be busy af

Anonymous said...

Does bandwidth have a direct correlation with government spending money properly? The answer is no.

But...not 1 in 10 Mississippi legislators can come close to defining bandwidth. Can they build a production and assembly factory having never walked inside one?

Anonymous said...

Look, we had 9 Trillion Dollars of central banker "Covid" money handed out worldwide. And what happened to it? The world's and US billionaires raked it in. Their collective wealth increased by 9 trillion. US billionaires, like Musk and Gates (our biggest farmland owner), increased their wealth by 62%.

If the GubMint would stop handing out money in feel good programs to rich folks via their elected/appointed minions to dole out instead of directly, we wouldn't have this. And I mean give it directly to all people, rich or poor. Because stopping a 500K a year doctor from getting 2000 dollars is no more going to route more money to a 20000 a year garbageman than giving the billions to the garbage corporation owner is. Much less Wall Street and DC doing the card dealing.

It's all a con game. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

And yes, you'll see the trillion routed to "green" programs like GreenTech or Farm Welfare (gotta stop those pootin' cows) and to huge construction companies, before the graft trickles down to the wife of the County Supervisor as always. She'll get a pittance in her brother's company to pay him back for selecting the "right" company.

And the same will happen with feel good "transportation programs" in the Delta and they will build even more Condos at Tuscaloosa and Oxford and beach homes. Just like Gulf Zone, or Hurricane X, or Covid PPP.

The money's too good from Uncle Sugar, everytime. The rich here got rich off slavery 150 years ago and Uncle Sam since 1930. Never fails.

But the ultimate vomit inducing hypocrisy will be this blog and others immediately ranting about "git GubMint off mah back" and "cut taxes."

Those skids have long been greased as the "delays" let Staffers craft the perfect regulations to steer money to their lobbyist's companies. Deliberate delays, to let the Rich get Richer.

Instead of maintaining society and building middle class wealth, we'll see the last of the Middle Class killed off, because greed is insatiable. And DC plays both ends against the Middle, everytime.

Anonymous said...

Yes 11:05, Like Huey P Long said both parties are robbing US. The Republicans are skinning US from the ankle up while the Democrats are skinning from the neck down.

And will American tax payers ever be educated regarding Wall St wealth and the Fed? When the economy finally declines towards oblivion and bank deposits/CDs pay 6%+ what will Cramer be pedaling.... Bitcoin?

Anonymous said...

11.05 is right. It also makes me cringe to think Boss Hog and his “blue ribbon” committee dolled out that Katrina money. What a book that would be.

Anonymous said...

The state auditor should offer a hand to the cities counties and state if he is worried about it. That what other state auditors are doing! Even in surrounding states! We have a bad problem in this state to moan and groan and point the figure, instead of getting after it. My ole high school ball coach use to say GATA which meant get after their ass! Let’s get after it. Spend it, make it better! Come on!

Anonymous said...

I worked in a government funding program for 35 years and I can say with a high level of confidence that the government couldn't spend a hobby horse token properly. Mostly because it ain't their money.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Crawford work in a plug - as he always does - for his poor, money losing, broke hospitals. Gosh damn, many businesses are finding it hard to locate enough capable workers in today's economy, but for some reason the poor hospitals need the government to provide money so they can pay their nurses more. In my business I've had to come up with the 'mo money' for increased salaries out of my pocket. But these poor hospitals, all about to go broke if you listen to their crying (properly and continuously brought to our attention by Crawford in damn near every column) and their need to get another handout for more money to their nurses.

Why just nurses? Why not doctors? And janitors? And technicians? Or, will they all be next once Delbert, Phillip and Tate cave in to the critical nurse shortage?

Anonymous said...

Locals like Supertalk's Gerard are sitting up nights trying to figure out how to get their hands on a smooth couple of million (or twelve). Yet they claim their only interest is the economy and the working stiff.

Anonymous said...

Uhh… Gerard doesn’t need it .

Anonymous said...

6:12 - Greed has no boundaries. It's like your first taste of fried oysters. You can never get enough.

Anonymous said...

8:12 - need and want are two different categories. Gerard wants to play with the real big boys, where today he is not quite there (too much of that selling price went to others). Yes, he is way past you, me and many others but given an opportunity to turn 20 into 200 - he would jump.

Anonymous said...

11:05 gets it. The social fabric of this country isn't falling apart because of [insert your favorite hot button social issue here], it's falling apart because it takes money to maintain it and all of that money - our tax dollars - is going to line the pockets of multi billionaires. They're not even trying to hide it.

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