- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:


Jan. 10

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson on equal pay for women:

Work performed by women in Mississippi is worth on average $9,385 less annually than that done by men. At least that’s what the statistics tell us.

The past inaction by the Mississippi Legislature to rectify this discrepancy tells us even more.

A 2016 report from the Washington, D.C.-based National Partnership for Women and Families found the median annual pay for a woman in Mississippi who holds a full-time, year-round job is $31,465 while the median annual pay for a man in the same circumstances is $40,850 - a $9,385 annual wage gap between genders.

And U.S. Census figures show women working full time in Mississippi make 77 percent of the median for men’s earning. The figure drops even lower for black and Hispanic women.

As the poorest state in the nation, Mississippi needs to pay attention to those statistics. In addition to being blatantly unfair, the gender pay gap also exacerbates the state’s pervasive poverty. More than twice the number of families in poverty are headed by single women (86,774) than married couple families (36,002), according to the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. Mississippi also ranks highest in the percentage of children living in single-parent families at 49 percent.

In other words, it’s not enough to get a job. You need a job that pays women what it does men.

Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, has authored a bill that would ensure women receive pay equal to men.

Named after Evelyn Gandy, Mississippi’s first female lieutenant governor, the bill cites the need to “prohibit wage discrimination against women, because we believe it is fair that women be paid the same amount that a man in the same job position would be paid for the same work.”

Predictions for the bill even coming up for a vote, let alone passing, are not good. The bill was double-referred to the House Workforce Development and Judiciary A committees. Double-referring bills is a mechanism that usually dooms passage.

Another factor noted in the dire predictions for the bill’s fate is that Baria, the Democratic leader in the supermajority Republican House, filed the bill. As someone noted, it would be like U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan giving any bill filed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the time of day.

But similar measures have been filed in the Legislature since 1997, when Democrats ostensibly ruled the roost.

What hasn’t changed in that time is that Mississippi lawmakers are overwhelmingly male, which might say more than anything why equal pay for women isn’t a high priority. What if the need were for equal pay for men?

It is past time for Mississippi’s male-dominated Legislature to do the right thing and rectify this wrong. As the bill notes in using the name of Gandy, who was also the first woman elected to statewide office as treasurer and the first female insurance commissioner: “In each office to which she was elected, she was paid the same as any male predecessor. Her achievements are evidence that women are just as competent and effective as men.”




Jan. 10

The Daily Leader of Brookhaven on a gas tax increase:

The message was clear at a meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday: more funding is needed for roads and bridges.

Lincoln County is in the Top 5 among counties in the number of roads and bridges to maintain, but is only in the mid-20s in assessed values. That means the county has more roads and bridges and fewer tax dollars to maintain them compared to some counties.

It’s no secret the county’s roads and bridges are in bad shape. But where will the funding to repair or replace them come from?

We’ve argued for an increase in the gas tax and the Board of Supervisors largely agreed that’s the most logical way to generate the funds. The very people who depend on safe roads and bridges would help fund their maintenance with an increased fuel tax.

According to estimates, it would take about a nickel increase in the 18 cent tax to fund the improvements needed statewide. So instead of paying $2.15 for a gallon of gas, we would pay $2.20. While no one wants to pay more for gas, it is the best way to get the infrastructure improvements we need.

The Legislature has signaled that an increase in the gas tax isn’t likely to happen though. That leaves only one source of revenue for the county - ad valorem taxes.

Either way, the county would get the revenue it needs. But an increase in ad valorem taxes doesn’t make as much sense as an increase in the gas tax. Property owners would owe the county more, but what about those who don’t own property yet drive the county’s roads? They wouldn’t be sharing in the burden of improving roads.

That doesn’t seem fair. Individuals who don’t live here yet drive local roadways also wouldn’t share in that burden if ad valorem taxes increase.

If you agree that an increase in the gas tax is the most logical way to fund infrastructure improvements, local legislators need to hear your voice. Contact them and let them know that a fuel tax increase if the best way to fund road and bridge improvements. We realize it would be odd for people to call and request a tax increase, but nothing in this life is free - that includes roads and bridges.




Jan. 8

The Sun Herald on tackling the Gulf Coast’s homelessness problem:

It is far too easy to forget about homeless people.

We see them on the street corner. Sometimes we stop and give them some cash or some food and continue on our way. Soon they are forgotten.

Or the homeless become a nuisance and our leaders act. Too often these actions are punitive, telling the homeless to just move on.

Some of us are outraged at such decisions as the one this week by Ocean Springs leaders who removed benches in hopes the homeless people would go elsewhere. (Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran ordered the benches returned Tuesday.) The outraged went to social media or to City Hall and expressed their disappointment.

Then the homeless fade from memory.

There were 417 homeless people in the three coastal counties in 2015, the last time HUD broke down the state’s homeless census by region.

We can do better. The solution is not to chase homeless people from city to city.

The Coast, the One Coast, needs to come up with innovative ways to help the homeless, to treat them as humans.

Let this latest attempt to deal with problems created by homeless people be the beginning of that conversation. Let it help us think about the homeless as individuals. Let it help us bear in mind there are many reasons people wind up living on the streets.

Some live that nomadic lifestyle by choice. Some have mental-health issues. Some are veterans, former housewives, business people, the once gainfully employed who have hit a bad stretch.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We have to find many and varied solutions.

And the starting point should be compassion. The compassion shown by the volunteers in our soup kitchens; by the “bag ladies” of Tennessee who weave plastic bags into sleeping mats to give the down-and-out a bit of comfort; by the social workers; by the shelter volunteers.

Many of the people living on the streets were once sure they would never find themselves in that situation. Those people need only an opportunity, a job, and they would be homeless no more.

It is a tough problem, one that can by alleviated only by talking, listening and creating - not by shooing these people away or throwing our hands up and saying, “Forget about it.”

Who will step forward and be the leader who brings our One Coast together to tackle it?



Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide