- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:


Nov. 6

The Sun Herald on BP money:

The Coast is very close to making an offer for spending BP economic damages money that will be very hard for the state to refuse.

The best idea we’ve heard: Using most of the $750 million in economic damages to create a trust fund administered by an independent board to choose Coast projects to spend the money on.

Most everyone agrees that most of the economic damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf were inflicted on the Coast. And most everyone agrees that any project that creates jobs and stimulates the Coast economy also generates tax revenue that benefits the rest of the state.

The idea that the money would be best spent elsewhere just won’t die, though. But it should.

The best way to kill that bad idea is to show the state that the Coast has a much better idea. We do.

Our idea would invest money in long-term projects. Those projects should be based on a simple formula laid out for the Sun Herald by Hancock Holding President and CEO John Hairston.

“If we spend a dollar, we get a dollar - through increased jobs, through increased tax revenues, which benefit both our schools and the government,” he said.

Hairston said if we look back 15 years from now and can’t find the jobs created, the value created, the better quality of life and better opportunities for our children by our BP projects, we have failed.

And that’s just what will happen if the money is divided equally among the four congressional districts - one of the more harebrained schemes we’ve heard.

Our biggest ally in the Legislature, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, has a vision similar to the Coast’s. He hopes to be able to look back 50 years from now and see the benefits of smart decisions we’ve made with the money.

We’re developing the framework for doing that.

We have the makings of the right plan but it isn’t finished. The Coast Mayors Forum is working on it. The Gulf Coast Business Council is helping. Still there are some disagreements that need to be resolved before it is presented to the Legislature early next year.

The best news is, so far, deciding what to do with the BP windfall is bringing the Coast together, not dividing it. And a united Coast is our best hope of getting our share of the money.

Let’s get this done.

Online: https://www.sunherald.com/


Nov. 7

The Commercial Dispatch of Columbus on the death of Janet Reno:

The death of Janet Reno on the eve of the presidential election is particularly poignant.

The passing of the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney General comes at a time when the country seems poised to select its first woman president, yet what Reno is most likely to be remembered for is her aversion to the political machinations that dominate government at the highest level.

Appointed to the AG position by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Reno served two terms under the Clinton administration, but was hardly a tool of the administration. Throughout her tenure as AG, she repeatedly exerted her independence, often to the dismay of the administration. She was plain-spoken, thoughtful and accountable, even in the face of bitter criticism. To be sure, there were decisions that proved unpopular and, in hindsight, in error. In these instances, she accepted criticism and blame without flinching.

Her tenure was also marked by her ability to recognize talented people and bring them into her office — people such as Merrick Garland, whose later success made him President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, and Eric Holder, who would go on the become the first African American attorney general.

Reno will be remembered as a “first,” but she is better remembered as someone who performed the job as it was intended - a strong, independent and principled attorney general for whom public service was a greater calling than political ambition.

As we come to the end of this bitter election season, we have a deeper appreciation of the higher ideal Reno’s career represents.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com/index.asp


Nov. 8

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on tax and funding reforms:

Almost all Mississippians eventually pay some kind of state taxes, and who is taxed and for what should be a permanent concern.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, are driving a study of Mississippi taxation policies and methods with the help of an outside consultant, the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation.

So far they seem to be in agreement with a goal of moving the state more toward taxing consumption, such as the sales tax on retail items, instead of taxing income.

Monday, Reeves and Gunn announced that Mississippians can offer comment on education funding policies and issues at a new email address, [email protected]

As with taxation, an outside consultant has been hired and is working with Reeves and Gunn to propose changes to how public education is funded.

Some people, candidly speaking, believe the goal is more about redirecting funding than changing it to improve the quality of schooling.

Reeves said of the tax process, “We heard a lot of positive comments about the steps we’ve taken to make Mississippi’s tax policy flatter and fairer to encourage long-term economic development, including the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act (which includes the franchise tax cut) passed this year. The Tax Foundation reported that among states with a positive business climate, Mississippi will rank in the top 20 once those tax cuts are in place.”

The lieutenant governor indicated he is looking for more of the same.

Some would argue that the changes, reductions and eliminations already made have put some state programs in dire funding straits, ultimately negatively impacting economic development and quality of life.

Some fear less than transparent motives in reworking the school funding formula, which hasn’t worked to maximum benefit because legislators and governors have fully funded it only twice in two decades.

Any education funding reform studies need continuing public participation to ensure that balanced views are presented in the debates as decisions are shaped.

The funding debate should include student-teacher ratios, general financial resources and revenue and expenditures for the most recent school year.

Statistics need to reflect how education funding has changed over time, plus facts about results compared to funding resources.

The legislative session begins in early January, which is ample time for voters to continue comments to legislators who should listen to constituents at least as much as partisan legislative leaders.

Online: https://djournal.com/

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