- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

August 5

Natchez (Mississippi) Democrat on airport being strong asset:

Most Mississippi residents rarely give the state’s 73 airports much attention, except on travel days.

To do so, however, is to miss a substantial economic driver in the state.

Collectively, a recent department of transportation report suggests, the airports shuttle more than 1 million commercial passengers - and thousands more private plane passengers.

In addition, the Mississippi Department of Transportation report suggests the airports create more than $2.5 billion in economic activity each year.

We’ve long viewed the Natchez-Adams County Airport as an untapped resource for economic interests.

For many business people who come to town on private aircraft, the airport is the community’s front door.

But beyond that, the county-owned land surrounding the airport could be of huge potential for economic development, particularly in the air and space industries.

Technology has changed the world and much in the way of commerce and business now travels on electrons, but physical transportation of people and goods will always be of high importance.

As Buck Rogers-like as it might seem, today’s state-of-the-art self-driving cars may eventually give way to self-flying planes.

Who knows, one day flying drone aircraft may even deliver the daily newspaper?

The notion may seem far-fetched today, but the speed at which technology moves gets faster daily.

Natchez might become a burgeoning hub of drone development soon. At the very least our leaders need to recognize the importance of the local airport and keep it top of mind as they budget and explore economic development interests.




August 5

Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on full school funding:

Mississippi’s uneven movement toward stronger, broader prosperity draws national attention every time a credible ranking or analysis reports our usual last place finish among the states, and many people ask, “Why can’t we get it right?”

Almost every conclusion points to our state’s apparent unwillingness and lack of political spine in fully funding public education under laws already on the books, plus drilling into students and their parents the importance of learning for the “New Economy” - technologically advanced, and constantly requiring new knowledge.

The 2014 State New Economy Index from the Innovation Technology and Education Foundation in Washington designates economic progress in the context of five major categories:

- Knowledge Jobs

- Globalization

- Economic Dynamism

- The Digital Economy

- Innovation Capacity

Massachusetts, an education-rich state, came in first. Mississippi, whose elected officials can’t bring themselves to fund education as the law requires, came in 50th - dead last.

The two states, in fact, whose economies lag the most in making the transition to the New Economy are Mississippi and West Virginia. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Kentucky, Hawaii, South Dakota and Alabama round out the bottom 10.

The report notes in the lowest echelon the states’ economies historically have depended on natural resources, on tourism, or on mass-production manufacturing, and relied on low costs rather than innovative capacity to gain a competitive advantage. In the New Economy, however, innovative capacity (derived through universities, R&D; investments, scientists and engineers, highly skilled workers and entrepreneurial capabilities) is increasingly the driver of competitive success, while states only offering low costs are being undercut by cheaper producers abroad.”

Mississippi, despite some notable exceptions, hasn’t wholly abandoned selling itself as a low-wage state.

Mississippi’s economy shows signs of gradually rebounding from the deep recession of the previous decade, and a private-sector proposal called “Better Schools, Better Jobs” has risen to tap into existing revenue streams to fully fund education.

The initiative would put a constitutional amendment to the state’s voters by a ballot initiative. A direct vote for direct progress.

The Better Schools, Better Jobs initiative “would require the Legislature to fully fund the state’s commitment to K-12 education, as it promised in 1997 with the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. . Better Schools, Better Jobs proposes a phase-in for the Legislature to use at least 25 percent of new growth to build up the MAEP fund, if its immediate full funding isn’t possible.”

Note no additional taxes are proposed, and none would be needed.

The amendment, if approved, would change Mississippi’s spending priorities from political preferences to educational attainment.





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