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Governor steering toward fiscal responsibility

As I See It

Politically speaking, spending money is popular while cutting expenditures is uncomfortable.

Fact is, we are in the midst of a business slowdown and state tax collections are lagging. Governor Musgrove correctly anticipated the situation and proposed that the state’s budget for next year be prepared using realistic tax collection assumptions. At that point, the ship of state struck a political rock.

Slowing the growth of government is unpopular with those who expect to benefit from that growth. If the Legislature agreed with the governor and prepared the budget using lower revenue assumptions, the growth of government would be slowed and there would be political fallout. Not a pleasant thought. If, however, the budget were prepared with the inflated revenue assumptions and the governor was later forced to make cuts to keep the books in balance, the governor would take the political heat and the Legislature would come out smelling like a rose.

So, the Legislature stood to their guns and overrode the governor’s budget vetoes.

Now it’s time to cut spending and Musgrove is likely to take an undeserved political whipping for having to clean up the mess the Legislature caused.

Do not be deceived! This situation could have been avoided with a little show of courage by the Legislature. Governor Musgrove is doing what must be done and he should not be criticized for doing his job.

Lawsuit extravagance

destroying state’s reputation

Mississippi is earning a reputation as the lawsuit capital of the world and it is one we cannot afford to have. Surrounding states have instituted tort reform in one form or another and now the trial lawyers are flocking here to ply their trade. If not arrested soon, this reputation will cause prospective employers to locate elsewhere and many of our existing businesses will leave the state.

Mississippians stand to foot the bill for extravagant lawsuit settlements twice. Once in the form of higher prices from businesses attempting to recoup the damage award from customers and again through loss of jobs as businesses locate elsewhere. While many dedicated Mississippians in both the public and private sectors are working tirelessly to improve the economic plight of the state, greedy trial lawyers are working just as hard to line their pockets and destroy our economy.

If we don’t inject some responsibility into the system we will suffer dire consequences. Tort reform for Mississippi must happen, and happen quickly.

Insurance is a new ball game

Lower interest rates and the slowing economy means higher insurance premiums across the board. Insurance companies are earning less interest on the premium dollars they collect and hold until claims are paid. Additionally, the slowing economy means less new business to compete for and thus the necessity to make a profit on existing accounts.

Pending premium increases will be felt in property, liability and workers’ compensation coverage. Naturally, health insurance will increase just because it always does. Experts estimate costs for all types of insurance could increase by as much as 20% over the next year and coverage may not be readily available to marginal businesses.

In order to minimize the risk of losing coverage, it is better to develop a relationship with an agent you trust and stay there. Those who jump from company to company can get squeezed out when times are tough.

The Mississippi Business Journal won a total of six awards at the recent Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Competition awards’ luncheon, including first and second place honors in the best feature story category. In his second consecutive first-place win, Bill Johnson Jr. was honored for his feature on Meridian entrepreneur Hartley Peavey. Lynne Wilbanks Jeter took second place with a profile of Martin Hegwood.

The MBJ was honored with four additional awards including best graphic, second place; best headline, third place; best editorial page, honorable mention; and best design, honorable mention.

This year’s MPA convention was held in Tunica June 14-16. This recognition came shortly after our winning an award from the Association of Area Business Publications (AABP) at its summer meeting in British Columbia several weeks ago. In the nationwide competition, the MBJ was awarded a silver award for best editorial. The winning entry took a look at the contentious debate surrounding Mississippi’s state flag.

Independent judges selected the winners of these awards. The North Dakota Press Association judged this year’s MPA competition, and the University of Missouri’s journalism school judged AABP entries. Winning is even better when the selections are made by one’s peers.

Needless to say, I am very proud of the MBJ staff and the recognition they justly deserved. This is a fun business, and I would like to thank our readers and advertisers who make it possible for us to keep doing what we enjoy doing.

Thought for the Moment — Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. — 2 Corinthians 9:7

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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