Mississippi Democratic Party Fact
JACKSON (Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007) As Republican
Gov. Haley Barbour travels the state for town hall meetings
on his 2007 legislative agenda and other issues, the Mississippi Democratic
Party reminds voters about the following facts:
Barbour boasts about spending more money for public education during
his term, including an increase of $323 million in K-12 spending and
an 8 percent teacher raise.
But the Mississippi Legislature approved the increased funding and raises
before Barbour took office. Barbour had nothing to do with passing the
teacher pay raise. In fact, the raise was approved under the leadership
of former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
In essence, Barbour is taking credit for something he didnt do.
MISSISSIPPI ADEQUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM
Barbour says he expects to sign legislation this year fully funding
the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the basic funding formula
for the states public schools. This, however, represents a sudden
change in Barbours philosophy.
Barbour called MAEP an artificial formula at a political
event last fall and then released a proposed state budget that would
under fund MAEP for the fiscal year that starts July 1 threatening
the quality of education for our children.
Barbour abruptly flip-flopped his stand in late December after the Mississippi
Department of Education revised its funding request for MAEP, asking
for $124.6 million in new money to fully fund the program rather than
the initial $158 million request.
The real test will come if and when Barbour actually signs full MAEP
The governor doesnt mention the thousands of Hurricane Katrina
victims on the Mississippi Gulf Coast who are still living in FEMA trailers
nearly 1½ years after the storm struck. Many are waiting for
financial help, including grants from the states Katrina Homeowners
Assistance Grant Program.
But the $3 billion program funded by federal money, Barbours top
Katrina relief project, is bogged down by needless delays and complicated
red tape. Of the 17,600 people who applied for financial help, grants
have been closed for 11,827 as of Jan. 24.
Barbour vetoed two bills in the 2006 Legislature, including one to eliminate
the states 7-cents-on-the-dollar tax on the sale of groceries
and another that would have reduced the sales tax. At the same time,
both bills would have increased the state tax on cigarettes.
Barbour is a former Washington, D.C., tobacco lobbyist.
Both bills would have benefited all Mississippians. For example, a family
of four that spends $150 a week on groceries would have saved $10.50
a week by not paying the sales tax. At the end of one year, that family
would have saved $546 enough money to buy almost an extra months
worth of food. Another key point: Smoking cigarettes is a personal choice;
everyone, however, has to eat.
Barbour talks about how the state has seen a gain of 35,000 jobs since
he has been in office despite experiencing Hurricane Katrina
the worst natural disaster in American history.
But Barbour conveniently doesnt mention recent job losses.
On Monday, Jan. 30, 2007, about 1,200 workers learned they will lose
their jobs when the Bryan Foods plant in West Point closes in March.
Tim Climer, president of the West Point/Clay County Community Growth
Alliance, said in a Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007, story in the The Clarion-Ledger
that a net of 2,000 to 2,500 direct and indirect jobs will be impacted
by the closing.
And last month, Oreck Manufacturing Co. announced it will phase out
its vacuum manufacturing plant in Long Beach, lay off about 450 workers
and move to a new plant in Cookeville, Tenn.
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