Why are leaders selling out?

Published 12:00 pm Friday, April 29, 2016

By TJ Ray

While it might be comforting to revel in the status of our old state’s being last in every measurement of states, it hurts.

While miracles might lead to trying to catch the malefactors who continue to ensure that we remain the lowest state in the Union, the sad truth is that we’ve reaped the crop we planted when we elected most of the folks in Jackson.

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The recent news of tax cut deals amounting to $415 million should outrage every Mississippian while it likely elicits cheers from big corporations. At a time when there is nowhere near enough money to meet the proposed budgets of many key Mississippi agencies, the elected solons in Jackson have repaid the funding they probably got in their last election.

Yes, I called them “solons.” You remember him, don’t you? Solon was a particularly wise lawgiver in ancient Athens who was born in approximately 630 B.C. and lived until about 560 B.C. For many centuries the term was applied to very outstanding lawgivers who accomplished manifold blessings for their constituencies. Ah, but the times have changed. Contemporary American journalists, with whom the term is especially popular, have extended the meaning even further to include any member of a lawmaking body, wise or not. In fact, today the word is sometimes used ironically for a legislator who displays a marked lack of wisdom, rather than a profusion of it.

By whacking away so many business taxes that have helped support the state, our wiseacres have given a wonderful bonus to business.

Now funds from other resources that should be spent toward needed ends must be diverted to prop up government operation. In the horse trading that went on in session, a threat against the budgets of colleges and universities was used to strong-arm approval of the business holiday bonus.

Sadly there was no voice for public schools in the back and forth. In the end, money for public education suffered a $200 million hatchet job. It will be interesting and sad to see the consequences of that shortfall. Having many years ago enacted (read that, made law) rules to adequately fund public education, the yahoos that represent us have only twice funded it at that level since 1997. The aggregate number would greatly dwarf the current stabbing.

With a governor, a lieutenant governor, the speaker of the House, and the dominant party running Mississippi, hopes for saving public schools before they are quietly dispensed with in favor of charter schools and special interests, the future looks grim for folks who still get up five days a week and go to schools that have very serious problems and no hope of getting adequate funds to help them solve their difficulties. I’d like to watch one of the “solons” walk into a school board meeting or a PTA meeting and try to explain his votes to sell out public education in the state.

Perhaps public schools should erect a sign at their entrance: NO LEGISLATORS ALLOWED. I’d be happy to make a donation to purchase those signs.

TJ Ray, a retired professor of English at the University of Mississippi, can be reached by email at