Sunday, December 17, 2023

Bill Crawford: New Speaker Going Where Others Feared to Go

 Rep. Jason White chose a challenging array of issues as priorities for his first session as Speaker of the House – healthcare coverage, PERS, education, and reinstating the statewide initiative process.

He told WLBT that Republicans “have gotten a bad rap” for not addressing healthcare coverage. “I’m going to put some smart people on it and we’re going to see what we can get done in that arena.” White has also said his emphasis will be on coverage for the working poor. Though healthcare coverage is a life and death issue for many as evidenced Mississippi’s high rate of preventable deaths, legislative leaders have so far dodged the issue.

White courageously said he wants the House to dig in to Mississippi’s most significant financial conundrum – funding the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). “I do look for us to tackle that big problem and try to come up with some long-term solutions to make it stable going forward so that folks know they can count on their retirement,” said White.

Given that this creeping crisis comes from the Legislature allowing too high benefits with too little funding for the past 40 years, real solutions will be politically difficult and very costly. Previous legislative leaders – including outgoing Speaker Philip Gunn and former Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves – feared the politics of it.

Since the Mississippi Supreme Court upended the state’s initiative process, the Legislature has been unable to reinstate it. Notably, legislators’ efforts have been more along the line of reinventing it than reinstating it. “We do intend to bring some legislation forward to reinstate that initiative process,” White told WLBT. It will be interesting to see if White really means “reinstating.” The heretofore proposed reinventions would significantly dilute voters’ sway. 

White’s other top issue is education, particularly accountability and the funding formula in the Mississippi Adequate Education Act (MAEP). He also wants to look into parental choice.

“There’s still room for improvement in our accountability model with our public schools,” he said. “There’s room for improvement in our funding formula, to be sure the money is going where it’s supposed to go. And our priorities are reflected in that funding.” MAEP has been substantially underfunded since its inception. The House upended a move by the Senate in the last session to adjust the formula and fully fund it.

White’s strong agenda suggests a refreshing intent to deal with important issues others feared to tackle. 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.


Anonymous said...

Jason will discover quickly that that some things are much easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

Parental Choice and Vouchers requires no political guts, no extra money. Just follow Arkansas' example.

Anonymous said...

"Previous legislative leaders – including outgoing Speaker Philip Gunn and former Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves – feared the politics of it."

Translation: Worried about their own rice bowl.

Anonymous said...

This is Crawford's 'I Smell a RINO' column.

Anonymous said...

The fact that health care insurance coverage is an issue does not make it the legislature's issue, except for whatever they want to do or not do for their own (state) employees. It is not incumbent on the legislature to provide health care for their employees and it is far beyond their business to do anything with it regarding anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Good for Jason White! I pray the legislature & the public will give support to these issues!

Anonymous said...

10:31: It is all of our duty to follow the spoken word of Christ. And our State & Federal government have a duty to help the needy which includes providing preventive & corrective medical care. I am sure if you or I lacked medical care on our own we would accept the government directly or indirectly providing care to us and those dear to us.

Anonymous said...

Why do I vote Republican?

Oh yeah, to reduce taxes and crime.

So don’t get rid of the state income tax, and let the armed robberies roll on because you all in the legislature have much better things to do.

I guess

Anonymous said...

While I am all for reducing taxes, eliminating the state income tax will only lead to increasing taxes somewhere else. Services cost money so the government has to get the money to provide services from somewhere. In a poor state that has so many needs, where is the money going to come from?

Anonymous said...

Give him a chance for Christ sakes !
You never know, the kid may pull a lot of it off!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the 1200 students at Prep enable their parents to receive $10,000 for each one.

Glory days!

Anonymous said...

Leftist Democrats are being forced to wait on taking back the state of Mississippi until Republicans do something stupid enough to hand it to them; and “going where others feared to go” with PERS would most likely to it.

The idea that Federal and State employees are entitled to a guaranteed retirement with guarantee increases while private sector workers aren’t good or special enough to have the same system and are forced to deal with the risks associated with market and interest rate ups and downs tell one all he/she needs to know.

If morals had any part at all in politics everyone would be “entitled” to these Federal and State retirement scams, or no one would be “entitled” to these Federal and State retirement scams.

Anonymous said...

Item #l should be overhauling all benefits paid to legislators, including PERS. Legislators should receive the same PERS benefits as all other state employees. They should have the same health insurance coverage as all other state employees. There is too much slurping at the legislative trough.

Anonymous said...

It is true, doubtless, that the sages of the legislature would eliminate the income tax and just tax something else more to preserve their stream of revenue. But the idea of a tax on income -- a tax on working, a tax on earning money and being productive -- really sticks up my backside and sideways.

Anonymous said...

Leftists frequently prop up a convenient plastic Jesus or dusty bible verse when they need to sanctify their marxist agenda. Jesus never put care of the indigent upon Caesar, he put it directly upon family structure and personal charity.

In marxist society, occasionally and deceitfully promoted among JJ comments, the State takes others' money to award themselves and those they deign victimized or oppressed. Families, religion and charities are diminished or demolished in favor of such communist tyranny.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...retirement "scams"?

Workplace pooled retirement funds have been common at least since shortly after WWII. Later they became IRAs and 401Ks.

I'm pretty sure every state has a retirement plan for government employees.

The "scams" I know about were run by corporations who had employees pay into pension funds and then sold the companies including the pension money that wasn't honored.

Another scam was reducing WWII veterans Social Security benefits because it was assumed they were getting VA money. Indeed, Elliot Roosevelt made a fortune convincing the vets that he'd get that corrected if they'd send money to help finance the effort. There was no real effort.

So I'm at a loss about the resentment towards PERS.

PERS has suffered the same gains and losses in the market...the worst of course, being 2008 but to my amazement, no one really connected the dots on the causes...again requiring stock offerings to be accurately described and a penalty for over-valuing real estate. The short version is we elect people who don't know the difference between " de-regulation" and "de-criminalization" or why the regulations were in place. Nor were the banks held to conservative asset investing and due diligence that had kept banks secure.

A bank isn't the same as a factory making widgets. Medicine is not a business nor insurance nor a law firm. Yet we have insanely decided MONEY isn't just everything, it's the only thing that matters. Until it's worth the same as a Confederate dollar.

Anonymous said...

11:00 AM, if State and Federal guaranteed retirement plans were self-sustaining and equitable, everyone could be offered the opportunity to participate i.e. be offered the same deal. Hence the word scam.

Anonymous said...

"Until it's worth the same as a Confederate dollar."

Most Confederate currency is worth quite a bit more than its face value (to collectors not as currency, obviously). I do not suggest that is a good or bad thing or that it makes the Confederate states a good thing or a wise choice, it's just a comment about its current market value.

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