TUESDAY, JAN. 30, 2007

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Mississippi Democratic Party Fact Sheet

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 didn’t do.

Barbour says he expects to sign legislation this year fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the basic funding formula for the state’s public schools. This, however, represents a sudden change in Barbour’s 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 funding.

The governor doesn’t 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 state’s Katrina Homeowners Assistance Grant Program.
But the $3 billion program funded by federal money, Barbour’s 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 state’s 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 month’s 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 doesn’t 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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