Bryant has slashed away this session

Published 9:45 am Friday, March 10, 2017

By TJ Ray

Chances are the 2017 session of the Mississippi State Legislature will not be the least productive of the current gaggle of solons. By some accounts, this one is pretty bad.

Since the last session busy minds produced a total of almost 3000 bills for consideration. To say that some of them were D.O.A. would be hammering the obvious. One can only speculate about the amount of paper that went to the landfill with wasted proposals.

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Probably even the senators or representatives that submitted many of them knew their end was predictable. In fact, all but 505 bills died in various ways, most of the time simply not being referred out of a committee. A breakdown of dead bills submitted by Democrats versus those brought forward by the dominant party would be enlightening — but surely not surprising.

Given that he is backed by a solid phalanx of fellow GOP folks, it is not a surprise at what Gov. Bryant has accomplished this year. Consider some of his major feats.

Most glaring was the amount raised for public schools: $0.00. That is because the geniuses at EdBuild haven’t figured out how they’re going to want the money distributed when the new funding formula is written — whenever that is. The takeover of public education and its subsequent put in the hands of absolute neophytes is a coup far more spectacular than that in any banana republic.

The Governor made huge cuts in funding for mental health — in a state that is almost at crisis stage now with its inadequate system. Of course, the lack of public facilities for folks who need this treatment is always at hand: local jails.

The School for the Deaf and Blind had a huge slash to its budget. Folks who can’t see the fiscal carnage around them or hear the cries for more sympathy from the Legislature must feel doubly handicapped.

The poorest who can least afford adequate medical treatment and rely on help from Medicaid will find less assistance in that direction.

Colleges with major programs in math, science and the arts took a great slashing, as did the community colleges.

Other agencies — just try to find one that didn’t have a chunk of its needed funding reduced by the fellow in the mansion in Jackson. A ray of sunshine should be noted: elected folks who contributed to this fiscal bloodbath did not have any cut in their salaries! Surprise! Surprise!

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.