Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is requesting an additional $355,531 to cover expenses for his staff through the end of the fiscal year after his predecessor, Haley Barbour, spent more than half of the yearly budget for the governor’s staff before departing.
Bryant is also seeking $119,000 to pay for workers at the Governor’s Mansion for 18 months, to replace the free labor previously provided by prisoners.
A bill proposes funding Bryant’s request from a state account created after Hurricane Katrina. During a 2005 special session, lawmakers authorized the state to borrow up to $500 million to help pay Katrina recovery expenses.
Mississippi’s educational system could soon get an overhaul if a senate bill becomes law. That bill would pave the way for a charter school system setting up a seven member approval committee before any charters could be granted.
Charter schools would still be held to state standards and could have their charter revoked if not successful. There’s also a provision in the bill that would allow for the creation of virtual charter schools which means students would never have to even step foot in a classroom for an education.
When it comes to funding, both Bryant and Reeves say the money currently being spent on every student, should follow that student wherever they go. That’s about $9,000 per student.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant wants to cut state spending by $26 million to $5.49 billion in 2013, also insisting on building $100 million in state reserves. The Republican summarizes his first budget as a “lot of cuts,” saying he won’t raise taxes.
Many agencies would get 5.5 percent less in the year beginning July 1. Bryant would cut K-12 school funding by $73 million, demanding districts spend reserves. Community colleges and universities would mostly get 5.5 percent less.
Some law enforcement agencies would be spared.
The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion is getting a $425,000 face-lift.
Work will include repairs to the plaster ceilings in the governor’s private living quarters, modifications to the heating and cooling system and tests for asbestos and lead.
During a legislative session that is likely to see drastic cuts in education, healthcare, and social services along with an all-out assault on state employees and pensions, it is unconscionable that taxpayers will have to foot the bill for such a costly remodel.
While transitional repairs and accommodations are routine and understandable, this is over the top.
Gov. Phil Bryant is giving newly appointed Department of Human Services executive director Rickey Berry 30 days to come up with a plan to reduce teen pregnancy in Mississippi.
Bryant is expected to make the announcement in today’s State of the State address.
Spokesman Mick Bullock said, while “state agencies must do what they can to combat the teenage pregnancy epidemic, the governor also believes the entire community – including individuals, doctors, schools, businesses and churches – is responsible for identifying teen pregnancy as an activity more dangerous than smoking.”
Step 1: Drop Abstinence Only education. It doesn’t work.
Step 2: Have real discussions with children about sex, using condoms and the social impact of waiting versus not waiting.
Step 3: Send home detailed information to parents about conversations and education taking place at school. Draw them into the conversation at home. (I know this will cause a ruckus, but the alternative is clearly not working.)
By the way, cutting the Department of Health is exactly the OPPOSITE of helping the problem.
Gov. Phil Bryant is saving taxpayers at least $200,000 by cutting spending in his office.
The amount Bryant will spend on salaries in his executive office is 10 percent less than former Gov. Haley Barbour – a feat achieved through a reduction in posts as well as salary cuts, according to documents obtained by The Clarion-Ledger through an open records request.
By my count, the Republicans are saving the state a net of $90,000 in salaries.
Bryant CUTS by $200K.
Speaker Gunn INCREASES by $110K.
The only one left is Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. So far, our “conservative” leadership is 1-1 in spending. Reeves decides whether or not they have a “winning” record with staff salaries.
Gov. Bryant has acted quickly in the wake of the scandal caused by his predecessor’s abuse of pardoning power. From The Clarion-Ledger today:
State prison trusties are no longer working at the Governor’s Mansion under Gov. Phil Bryant, a decision that could mark the end of the decades-long practice in Mississippi.
Bryant told The Clarion-Ledger that Thursday was the last day a trusty would work at the downtown Jackson landmark.
“As governor, Bryant first discontinued the practice of inmates spending the night on the mansion grounds and then the tradition of pardoning those individuals,” spokesman Mick Bullock said. “Bryant stated that he would work towards phasing out the use of trusties at the mansion, and that last phase of Bryant’s plan was completed today.”
Bryant is especially sensitive to victim’s rights because of his aunt, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1981. In some ways, you have to admire his swift and absolute actions regarding trusties at the mansion.
That said, I fear that all of our leaders — Republicans and Democrats — might react with legislation that swings the pendulum too far the other way. Executive pardons serve a real and necessary function within our justice system. Too handicap them would be a mistake.
For instance, there is legislation proposed by Democrats I admire, but I respectfully disagree with forcing governors to make pardons 90 days prior to their leaving office. Politically, it would be rare for a first-term governor to make a righteous pardon that nonetheless could be politically damaging just weeks before Election Day as they seek re-election. That’s exactly what this bill would force.
While victim’s rights must be first and foremost, we must also remember that mistakes are made that later evidence and consideration brings to light. Furthermore, some pardons are simply clearing the record of a person who has paid their dues, returned to society and have turned their lives around. These pardons are important for getting jobs and making a full return to society. We are punishing them by making a governor seeking re-election make this pardon prior to Election Day.
Too, while I understand the governor’s decision, I disagree that no trusties should work at the governor’s mansion. Either prohibit persons convicted of violent crimes from serving at the governor’s mansion, or allow only those who understand they will not receive a pardon because their service there would preclude it. Either way, it gives prisoners the opportunity at some sort of rehabilitation, which must remain a part of our criminal justice system.
This is a complicated issue. Gov. Barbour grossly abused his power. Let’s prevent that in the future. Let’s not tear down a needed part of our criminal justice system at the same time. You know, baby and bathwater and all that. It’s not a good idea, and it’s bad policy.
Bryant’s comments come amid a firestorm out-going Gov. Haley Barbour created when he granted clemency to more than 200 convicted criminals in his final days in office.
“I have met with Sen. (Michael) Watson, with the speaker of the House and (Speaker Pro tem) Greg Snowden and briefed the lieutenant governor,” Bryant said this morning. “My request is that we restrict to very narrow guidelines the ability to provide pardons or clemency.
A constitutional amendment requires a 3/5 majority vote from the Legislature, then ratification by Mississippi voters.
In a previous post, Clarion Ledger: State Democrats seek changes with pardons , it noted that Rep. David Baria was introducing legislation to stop the practice of 23rd 1/2 hour gubernatorial pardons as well as the inmate trustee program. It was Democratic Leader Bobby Moak and House Democrats who raised issue along with the victims famlies about outgoing Gov. Barbour’s gross misuse of his contsitiutional authority.
It was AG Jim Hood’s defense of the law and MS constitution which led to the halt of release of some 21 of the criminals that had been improperly pardoned.
The MS Republican establishment, following the Reagan commandment, said nothing regarding this story which had taken on a national profile over the past four days…….Then, in rides the calvary..
Boot Scootin’ Bryant has declared today that he along with his Lt. Gov. and legislative leaders are now supporting a constitutional amendment reducing gubernatorial clemency powers. One has to give this bunch some “political points” here because they clearly see that the public along with the Democrats are right on this issue and that the pushback was real and growing.
The new reality is that although the Democrats are on the right side of this issue, and have been from the beginning, it will be an aspirant Republican who will author the legislation which will be passed with GOP majorities in the house and senate and just like that, the problem they created will be the problem they solve..
Gov.-elect Phil Bryant today announced today a slate of appointees to key state agencies.
Last week, Bryant named businessman Jim Barksdale as his interim head of the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s economic development arm.
When I wrote up my preview of what to watch for in the 2012 legislative session, I forgot lump sum budgeting. Barbour, however, made it a top priority for the new Republican-controlled Legislature as he leaves office:
Barbour’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would cut agencies, on average, an additional 2.9 percent.
“Trust me, departments and agencies can meet my budget, they can achieve further savings if you require it of them, and they can still provide services of the same quality and at the same level,” he told lawmakers.
Efforts he has advocated as money-saving tools have included granting lump sum budgeting for agencies and relief from the state Personnel Board.
Those proposals have generally passed the Republican-controlled Senate in recent years but have been killed by Democrats in the House.
“Please give them lump sum authority and relief from the Personnel Board,” he pleaded in his speech.
Lump sum budgeting doesn’t bother me too much. However, the so-called “relief” from the Personnel Board would be disastrous.
Essentially what Barbour, Bryant and other Republican leaders are seeking is unfettered control over state employees. The Personnel Board exists to protect state workers from undue political pressure and the state from the negative effects of cronyism.
(As a side note, I noticed how Elizabeth Crisp referred to it as “relief from the Personnel Board”. Calling it “relief” is editorializing as it assumes that the Personnel Board is a burden instead of a protection. I like Elizabeth. She’s a good reporter, but this seemingly innocuous editorializing colors the views of uninformed readers.)