Gov. Bryant’s special session

Facing a $75 million shortfall in the state budget, Gov. Bryant called a special session to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to cover the deficit. After much grandstanding, the legislature authorized the governor to pull from the $349 million fund to balance the state’s $6.2 billion fiscal 2016 budget.

After years of demanding that the rainy-day fund only be used to pay one-time costs, Republicans are dipping into the fund for a second time within a year. And this after a year of corporate giveaways and borrowing money to do so. Katherine DeCoito makes the observation that, at this rate, the politicians are incentivized to make every year a “rainy day”–at least until the state is bankrupt–and they can no longer bail themselves out.

Geoff Pender further illustrates the absurdity of the legislative session which cost taxpayers $102,000 which would be comical if it wasn’t so pitiful. Our legislators, Democrat and Republican, apparently think they are playing with “Monopoly” money. Unfortunately, it is not.

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Are rights from God. . . or man? Part II

After Chris Cuomo’s quarrel with Judge Roy Moore, another media-type has expressed her belief that rights come from man. In response to Sen. Ted Cruz invoking God as the grantor of rights, Yahoo News political reporter Meredith Shiner posted:

If rights are granted by men, they can be taken away by men.

The Declaration of Independence declared that humans are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” and the U.S. Constitution was created to prevent government from trampling them. In a 2001 interview, President Obama recognized the Constitution’s restraint on government: “It says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.”

Rights granted by men are artificial or man-made but certainly not natural and unalienable! Shiner should thank God for all of her rights, including her 1st Amendment right to speak her mind–even if she doesn’t know Who granted them.

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Palazzo named to House Appropriations Committee

While the special election to fill the 1st Congressional District is still taking shape, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo has been appointed to replace the late Alan Nunnelee on the House Appropriations Committee (HAC).

Former Sen. Trent Lott said that Mississippi has been represented on the Appropriations committee since the 1930s and that losing that position would have been a big loss to the Gulf Coast and the state. “I was just depressed that we’d lost that slot,” Lott said. “So with Palazzo going on, that’s really important — important for the district but also important for him. For those federal installations we have down there on the Coast this is really big.”

Since this powerful committee writes the bills that determine where and how tax dollars are spent, the state benefits from the representation. Senator Thad Cochran chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee where he has established a strong history of bringing federal dollars into the state. Since Mississippi is dependent upon federal aid and routinely topping the list of state budgets supported with federal dollars (42.9% of the 2013 budget was provided by the federal government), having representation on the Appropriations committees of both the House and Senate is vital.

Rep. Palazzo should benefit politically because this position greatly expands his influence beyond that of his roles on the Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Space and Technology Committees, some of which he’ll have to relinquish. With Tea Party favorite and state Sen. Chris McDaniel expressing interest in the 4th Congressional District seat, Palazzo’s new-found status should provide give him an edge in future elections.

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Are rights from God. . . or man?

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .”

Thomas Jefferson acknowledge the foundation of true liberty by asking, “God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Jefferson was keenly aware of a threat that now challenges the basic fabric of our country. While interviewing with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on gay marriage issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, CNN host Chris Cuomo stated, “Times change, definitions change” and then claimed, “Our [rights] do not come from God Your Honor and you know that. They come from man.”

Moore kept his responses based on the Declaration of Independence which has been defined by law to be the organic law, or foundational law, of the United States. Cuomo objected, “Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country.” Moore reiterated that his position is not based on faith but on U.S. laws.

See a short segment of the interview at CNSNews.com or the entire interview from CNN’s New Day:

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Mississippi’s love/hate relationship with “free” money

E.J. Dionne, writing for the Washington Post, identifies Mississippi’s personality disorder with respect to federal funding.  As a “conservative” state, Mississippi rejects federal waste, unbalanced budgets, and pork.  At the same time, the state benefits from, if not relies upon, federal money.

The U.S. Senate primary race between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel is forcing the issue.  Cochran has made a name for himself as a master appropriator and is in line to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee should the Republican Party take the Senate in November.  McDaniel has fashioned himself a warrior against federal debt, excessive spending, and pork and has won the support of a host of Tea Party groups advocating the same.

According to Mississippi State’s Marty Wiseman, “Our anti-Washington politics has been to make sure that we got as much of it here as we could.  You’ve got the tea party excited that they’ve corralled a big spender, but he was bringing it back to Mississippi. That’s the paradox of all paradoxes.”

Democrat Party Chairman Ricky Cole is quoted, “If Mississippi did what the tea party claims they want . . . we would become a Third World country, quickly.  We depend on the federal government to help us build our highways. We depend on the federal government to fund our hospitals, our health-care system. We depend on the federal government to help us educate our students on every level.”

Dionne identifies the apparent victor in this battle:  “Yes, Childers could run as a Thad Cochran Democrat — except he wouldn’t be saddled with the need to appease an ideology that has to pretend federal spending doesn’t benefit anybody, least of all the people of Mississippi.”

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Sun Herald’s Hampton declares Tea Party Dead. . . maybe

In his May 24th Sun Herald opinion “Up to our necks in mud – and sinking in the Mississippi Senate race,” Paul Hampton attempted to write the epitaph for the Tea Party tombstone.   “But it’s clear 2010 was a fluke and this party is over.  Of course, you could make the argument the party isn’t over — the Tea Party has just ‘purified’ the GOP.  You know, sort of like when the Democrats lurched to the left and its more conservative members jumped ship.”

Then comes the following tweet from Paul Gallo:

To put it a bit more clearly, Sen. Thad Cochran is running the same campaign a Democrat would use to defeat Chris McDaniel and there is nothing that Cochran has done that the Democrats can run against!  So much for “purification.”

With Republicans continuing to be “Democrat-light,” conservative groups within the party will always attempt to reform it.  Existing campaign finance laws have made that a certainty.

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Jackpot Justice: Mississippi Before Tort Reform

News Mississippi commemorates the state’s 10th anniversary after passing tort reform in Looking Back at Mississippi Before Tort Reform.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that prior to tort reform, doctors were seeing 25% annual increases in malpractice insurance.  Jones County had more plaintiffs than residents.  And doctors were fleeing the state.  Haley Barbour, who was elected governor in 2003 on a tort-reform platform, stated that Toyota and several Fortune 500 companies would not consider coming to Mississippi under the conditions prior to tort reform.

The 2004 tort reform law did not limit the amount a plaintiff could get for lost wages, medical bills or other quantifiable costs but only limited the subjective elements such as “pain and suffering.”  The state passed a $500,000 cap on these subjective, non-economic damages although business in the state lobbied for a $250,000 cap.

Medical liability insurance in Mississippi has dropped 60% as medical liability suits dropped by more than 90% in one year.  Overall, tort cases have dropped from 10,600 in 2002 to about 3,500 in 2012 according to the Clarion-Ledger.

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