TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) – Mississippi’s Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole made a stop Friday in Tupelo here at WTVA.
Despite taking hard hits over the last few years, especially in statewide elections, Cole told us Democrats in Mississippi are making a comeback starting with winning more local elections.
Cole said, “We were very successful last year in the mayoral elections, here in Tupelo for example. All over the state Democrats are organizing. We’re seeing a renaissance of Democrats at the local level. We’re bringing that up to the state and national levels in Mississippi over the next three election years.”
Cole has been touring Mississippi this week talking with both the media and local leaders.
Along with Tupelo his stops include the Delta, northwest Mississippi, and the Golden Triangle.
Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal runs down the significant events of the 2014 legislative session with a two-part series:
In his first story, Harrison provides a recap of the following issues that the legislature tackled during the session:
- Teacher Pay: Initially promoted by Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), the bill provides $2,500 pay raise over 2 years. The senate finalized the language which, under Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ leadership cut out performance requirements.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping reforms resulting from recommendations of judges, prosecutors, district attorneys, law enforcement and local officials. Estimated to save $266 Million over 10-years.
- Special Needs Payments: Promoted by Sen. Nancy Collins (R-Tupelo), the proposal failed largely due to objections over giving “education vouchers.”
- Religious Freedom: Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed even after firestorm in Arizona. Legislation changed to prevent the government from being able to force someone to take action against their religious beliefs.
- Bonds: $199.9 Million in new bonds were approved for Cooper Tire in Tupelo, a Tammy Wynette Museum in Tremont, the William Faulkner/Union Heritage Museum in New Albany, and renovations to Okolona College.
- Texting: After looking like ban on texting while driving would pass, Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson) entered a motion to reconsider which effectively killed the bill since efforts to table the motion were defeated.
- Medicaid Expansion: Republican leadership continues to oppose medicare expansion. Both the House and the Senate rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid as is allowed under Obamacare (to cover those earning 138% of the federal poverty level).
- Judges, Law Enforcement: Added 16 assistant district attorneys, 50 new Highway Patrol troopers, added funds for the state Crime Lab.
The second story focuses on the budget. According to Harrison, the $2.4 Billion public education budget was an increase of $85 Million over the previous year. The current education budget is $255 Million short of the funding formula based on the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
In all, the 2014 $6 Billion general fund budget was an increase of about $200 Million over 2013.
For more information:
- Teacher pay, justice reform biggest achievements
- School districts still in budget hole
- House Bill 504, Teacher Pay
- House Bill 585, Criminal Justice Reform Act
- Senate Bill 2681, Religious Freedom Restoration Act
- House Bill 765, Equal Opportunity for All Students with Special Needs Act
- House Bill 484, Ban on Texting While Driving
- House Bills 41, 294, 462, & 1067 and Senate Bills 2202 & 2358