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BILL CRAWFORD — Republicans own malfunction of state government



Republicans now dominate state government and own its performance.

Since 2004, the governor’s office has been held by a Republican. Governors make most appointments to executive boards and agencies in Mississippi.
Lieutenant governors and speakers of the house make a limited number of appointments to Mississippi agency boards. Since 2002, a Republican has made every lieutenant governor appointment. Since 2012, a Republican has made every speaker of the house appointment.
Consequently, Republicans now control and own the performance of every state agency run by appointees.
For those state agencies run by elected officials, Republicans control all but the Office of Attorney General and the Public Service Commission. 
The Legislature provides the money and sets policy for the operation of state government. In January, Republicans gained a super majority in the House of Representatives. That followed Republicans gaining a super majority in the Senate four years earlier. 
Consequently, Republicans now own the budget and overall performance of the Legislature.
The stated goal of Republicans has been to right size government and make it perform more effectively and efficiently. 
With Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn steering the ship and their minions running day to day operations, no doubt the consensus Republican plan to accomplish this goal is on track.
Houston, we have a problem. 
There appears to be little trust of confidence between Republican legislators who control money and policy and Republicans agency heads who run day to day operations. Nor is there any clear consensus about the role and function of state government. Bryant appears to be caught in the middle.
This disconnect among Republicans became highly visible during the recent legislative session and the resultant budget fiasco/retooling (pick one).
Republican Buck Clarke, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, tried to explain the disconnect:  
“There are many agencies providing valuable services to the citizens of this state, many funded at a level below what we would like. We also believe that each agency is sincere in their requests for funding as they and their advocates fight for their share of the pie. The truth of the matter is though that each agency and each advocate is not so concerned about funding levels at other agencies. However, it is our job in appropriations to be concerned with every agency and the mission with which they are charged.”
Said another way, agency heads are not on board with legislative priorities. 
Republican Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney, a former member of both the House and Senate, expressed frustrations shared by a number of agency heads.
“What we have had here is a failure to communicate,” said Chaney. He told the Clarion-Ledger he tried to call Clarke 27 times from March 22 through when lawmakers finished their work April 21 with no answer, “and it was the same with (House Appropriations Chairman) Herb Frierson.”
What we have had this year is malfunctioning government fully owned by Republicans. Voters expected better.
» Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)


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One comment

  1. Republicans control many states and the Congress. Republican Congressman Palazzo says that “we” “need to take our county back”. Back where? Backwards even more? We have now had 8 years of progress in the U.S. economy, avoided a financial meltdown and severe depression, expansion of the economy under the stimulus act, and every month positive job growth, DESPITE the unbelievable anti-American obstructionism of the Republican Party in Congress to “make President Obama a one-time president with no accomplishments”! The Republican Congress has been a failure with extremely poor performance. Austerity measures by the Republicans in Congress and at the state level has resulted in only further economic implosion, budget deficits, and loss of jobs. Where Donald Trump will take the country is unknown.

    Mississippi is a leader in economic austerity and implosion, following the examples of Kansas and Louisiana. After 16 years of Republican control of the Governor’s office and the legislature, Mississippi remains in last place, at the bottom of the states, economically, and in most all other categories. Mississippi has the highest levels of unemployment, poor people in poverty, and citizens lacking in medical care and insurance. Let’s face it. Mississippi is DEPRESSED. The Republican leadership does not seem to know that four essential ingredients are needed to make the U.S. and the Mississippi economies grow: strong educational systems, consumer demand, wise investments in the economy from governmental entities, and a fair taxation system that spreads the costs of government and social services fairly to all parties that reap the benefit of those services. It appears that many in Congress and Mississippi government to follow the attitude of greed to only obtain campaign contributions and self enrichment versus doing things for the good of the whole community.

    It is clear that the Republicans have failed to make education stronger in Mississippi. The legislature has failed to fund it adequately for years, and the Governor has failed to demand that public school systems be properly funded. Republicans have railed over the educational standards, but failed to properly address them. You can not have an educated work force that attracts business, commerce and industry without an educated work force. In addition, an uneducated workforce will earn less money, keeping the consumer demand low, and putting pressure on governmental support services, all costing the tax payer money for social services and reducing state revenues.

    The U.S. and the Mississippi economy run on CONSUMER DEMAND. The demand side of the economy in Mississippi is weak because of lost jobs due to the financial crisis in housing and Wall Street derivatives, jobs moving overseas due to horrible free trade agreements, downward pressure on wages, demagoguing the value of labor unions, and inflation. Consumers currently can not afford to purchase the goods and services that industry and business provide. In addition, industry can’t sell much overseas due to the disparity of cost of production between developing third world countries and the U.S. And without demand, businesses and industry can’t and won’t expand, and job growth will be minimal. Therefore, the Mississippi economy will continue to stagnate until some fundamental structural changes are made on the demand side of the equation. Republicans apparently have no plan to address this.

    With the typical austerity measures pursued by the Mississippi Republican legislators giving tax breaks to the already wealthy means cutbacks in funding the social services provided by state, county, and city governments. That may sound good, but the thing to remember is that government social services include roads, bridges, highways, air ports, water systems, sewer systems, storm drainage systems, solid waste and garbage systems, dams and reservoirs, schools, parks and recreation, medical services, police, fire protection, state national guard. Therefore governments are not able to make the wise investments in the maintaining our vital infrastructure and services that underpin our economy when austerity measures cut their funds. Of course, as citizens, we have to make sure that government do make wise investments. However, make no mistake, wise investments by governmental entities play a major role in the economy. Governmental expenditures of our tax dollars results in jobs and services which in turn result in additional tax revenue to the state and money circulating in the economy creating demand. Its a case where a proper balance must be struck between our taxation, social services, and private enterprise. Mississippi is failing to make the proper balance and austerity measures are being skewed to the favor of corporate enterprises for which we are failing to get an adequate return on our tax dollars invested.

    Mississippi has a very unfair taxation policy that holds back economic progress. Mississippi has the most regressive tax policy of all of the states. Mississippi has placed a large tax burden on the poor and middle class. It would appear that this a legacy of racial hatred in my opinion. Keep the poor poor through low wages and high taxes so that the poor will stay in their place as economic slaves to the wealthy. However, this policy affects whites just as much if not moreso. The Republicans always like to pretend that low wages, low taxation on industry, tax breaks and subsidies, are necessary to attract new industry and business. That myth continues to leave Mississippi in last place among the economies of the other states. It has resulted in exactly the opposite.

    Mississippi citizens need and deserve better. Republicans need to return to their true conservative roots embodied by President Teddy Roosevelt and stop being special interest representatives for the already wealthy 1%. That’s one of the reasons why the Republican base has been attracted to Donald Trump. The Republican establishment has gone off and left the Republican base. The Republican base initially supported the Tea Party in hopes of seeing government costs reduced, but were miserably failed when only social services were cut (impacting them) and the fat cats on Wall Street and international corporations continued to receive HUGE corporate welfare and tax breaks that far and away exceeds social welfare for the poor. The status quo remained the same. The problem is, Donald Trump will fail them also. Donald Trump is not out for the little guy, the backbone silent majority of poor and middle class Republicans that want limited governmental and lower taxes. His life’s history reflects a greed of I’m going to get rich and stoke my ego at the expense of anybody else I need to run over.

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