Time proves error of Barbour’s campaign rhetoric

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

As the nation comes to grips with the recession, the biggest news in state government is the decline in tax revenues. On March 20 we learned that for the 12 months ending in June, state revenue will be more than $200 less than we thought in October, and for the following 12 months we will be some $400 million short of the October estimate. As difficult as the situation is, there are economic lessons to be learned from our current budget problems.

During his two campaigns and all periods in between, Gov. Haley Barbour lambasted his immediate predecessor, Ronnie Musgrove, for leaving office with “a $700 million dollar hole in the state budget.”  Gov. Barbour also bragged that he was able to close the budget hole “without raising anyone’s taxes” and that “more Mississippians are working than ever before.” 

In fact, Musgrove’s term fell prey to the national recession of 2000-2001, the accompanying loss of jobs and Mississippi’s first period of declining tax collections since 1984.

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Now, as the state economy slows in line with the national recession, we find ourselves staring at another decline in tax collections and another $700 million-plus hole in the budget — next year’s $400 million shortfall in revenue plus $300 million in “one time money,”  non-recurring revenues that have been scraped together from various sources throughout state government. In addition, struggling Mississippi businesses are laying off workers resulting in the lowest number of working people in the state since 1998. As a result, Barbour is pushing a $90 million tax on the state’s hospitals, apparently supporting an increase in the tax on cigarettes and has already instituted a higher tax on nursing homes.

Thank goodness the federal stimulus money will help us plug some budget holes and, hopefully, enable us to avoid draconian cuts to public services for the foreseeable future. These funds on the heels of the Hurricane Katrina relief funds have been a godsend to Mississippi. While both the stimulus money and the Katrina money are non-recurring “one-time” sources, without this federal help Mississippi’s economy would be in far worse shape than it is.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple: While state policies can be helpful in attracting businesses and creating jobs, we are influenced far more by the national economy, and no Mississippi politician should take credit or blame for the vagaries of the national economy. Gov. Barbour is not to blame for our current economic plight. But just as assuredly he cannot take credit for the boom that preceded the current decline, and blaming Gov. Musgrove for the recession of 2000-2001 was just plain wrong. 

State Rep. Cecil Brown

District 66


City is more than downtown

Vicksburg Video Channel 23, programmed by the City of Vicksburg, advertises Vicksburg as a Wi-Fi zone. Is Vicksburg just downtown? It seems like it is with this mayor.

That is my big complaint about this mayor. So much is done for downtown and Main Street people when the majority of Vicksburgers never go downtown to shop. It is out of most folks’ prices.

Also very disappointing is that not one person is running against the sitting aldermen, and with Alderman Mayfield I do mean sitting. It’s so very disappointing.

Gertrude Young helped teach Laurence Leyens how to be mayor and then he criticized her and the other people who are trying to keep NRoute running. Of the five cities with mass transit where I have lived, they have always run in the red. I think people who are working to keep the buses running should be commended, not ridiculed.

Mayor Leyens has done well for himself and his neighborhood. Now, enough is enough. We need a mayor who cares more about all of Vicksburg. It’s time for the mayor to go and, hopefully, next go-around some good people will run for alderman.

Mickey Loyacono


A lesson from the garden

A headline in the Feb. 19 Wall Street Journal, “After prison, sex offenders have few places to live,” encouraged me to mail this letter.

Having worked in the yard helping my mother since I was 3, I learned an irrefutable fact: Simply cutting the tops off obnoxious growth doesn’t get rid of it. It simply sits there, developing a stronger root system and reappears in the spring more prolific than ever.

We have excellent laws in this country, but are so eager to be Christlike in loving and forgiving we fail to remember God is a God of justice; consequently, we have gradually failed to really enforce our laws. Instead, we waste many years and thousands of dollars in hard-earned money on endless appeals. I am reminded of a man on death row who spent 25 years making that many appeals on any infinitesimal thing he could think of. Why should the law-abiding public have to pay for that?

What is really absurd is expecting sex offenders to register themselves as such wherever they go. Why should they? And why turn them loose on the unsuspecting public after a few years anyway?

Going back to gardening experience, they should have a trial by jury, with every conceivable piece of evidence presented at that particular time, along with every drop or particle of DNA possible to obtain. In the event of a conviction, they should be allowed one, only, appeal. Then, the mandatory sentence should be immediate castration in a certified hospital by a certified physician. Then, the culprit can be turned loose on the public — no muss, no fuss, no bother, no waste of taxpayer money.

After the first half-dozen or so, there will be a significant reduction in sexual abuse of little children, the vulnerable elderly and anyone in between.

This is neither cruel nor inhumane. It is dealing with the cause of a serious problem that is, according to what I read, becoming evermore prevalent in our society.

L.C. Giles


Animal abuse intolerable

I read an article in The Vicksburg Post about a 20-year-old Natchez resident, Travis Bradford, who was sentenced to serve six months in jail for murdering his own 1-year-old pit bull.

This sorry son-of-a-gun tied this animal to a tree, saturated it with a flammable liquid, put a match to the poor animal and burned it to death. In Mississippi, the law says this is a misdemeanor.

If someone steals an animal it is a felony. Can you believe we have this kind of mess in our state? It is unbelievable. He should have received a life sentence. You can steal someone’s pet and it is a felony, but if you tie your pet to a tree in Mississippi and burn it to death it is a misdemeanor.

I think all the humane societies and animal advocates, including me, should get together and demand the stupid lawmakers change the laws of the state of Mississippi.

George Mitchell