Tonight is the annual State of the State Address by Governor Phil Bryant.
Here is a possible guide to ten things you may hear and the “back story” you definitely won’t hear.
Bryant: The state of the state of Mississippi is SOUND!
Facts: Mississippi has the lowest per capita income in the nation, credit rating lowered, rural hospitals closing, last on the list in health outcomes, being sued by the feds for not meeting constitutional mandates for the sick and disabled, cuts made to local law enforcement agencies, volunteer fire departments, narcotics units, and mental health agencies just to name a few.
Bryant: We have created jobs!
Facts: There are fewer net jobs in our economy today than when the Republicans took the Governor’s chair in 2004.
Bryant: We are shrinking government!
Facts: The Republican leadership refused to fund 6,830 vacant state positions and eliminated an additional 1,482, with even more on the cutting board, and the budget is still in red ink.
Bryant: We got a Silver Shovel Award! The holding up of a magazine or a stage prop is likely.
Facts: Yep, just like everybody else that took their state tax money to lure in a large corporation to come to their state. We’re spending a lot of money for a shovel.
Bryant: The legislature is spending 15% to 25% more on its own budget than when I came into office. (TRUE. See, we do agree on something.)
Bryant: We have passed responsible balanced budgets. The Governor may actually hold up a cardboard sign here to help him stay on message.
Facts: This is a bait and switch. The Republicans cut expectations for corporate tax receipts by $125 million so they could falsely present a message that their budget plan is working. In reality, corporate taxes were down $118 million on June 2016. Since September 2016, corporate taxes are down $114 million from the prior 15 months. In Mississippi most recently, 111 out of the 150 largest corporations paid $0 in taxes. 70% of all corporations pay $0 in taxes.
Bryant: We are working our government policy on conservative principals, and it’s working!
Facts: Actually, the state budget is a mess. As a result of revenue shortfalls, Governor Bryant has made repeated cuts to the budget, and revenues continue to lag behind both the legislature’s unrealistic estimates and last year’s collections. State agencies have requested more than $100 million in additional funds for the current year as a result of the unrealistic budget the legislature adopted last year.
Our state is in real fiscal trouble. Think Louisiana or Kansas.
The Clarion-Ledger in MS BUDGET CRISIS said “continued tax cuts, mostly to business entities, have led to declining state revenues and deep cuts to state agencies, threatening to send Mississippi over the precipice into a financial disaster.”
Since September 2016, Governor Bryant has taken $155 million from the state’s savings account, the Rainy Day Fund. Additionally, he has been forced to cut from the budget due to Republican fiscal leadership’s granting of 40 tax breaks to corporate entities another $152.77 million for a total of $307.97 million. Oh yeah, and we still have that annoying $100 million deficit in this year’s budget AND there are $432 million more tax cuts on the books that will go into effect in the future.
Bryant: We need a MS Highway Patrol Trooper School!
Agreed! Rather than just a school we need a full time academy of instruction putting these needed law enforcement folks in our communities with a continuing minimum graduation program to insure we do not get in this position again. Democratic legislators have been at the forefront of this issue and the Governor has joined in. Now, if only the Republican legislative leadership will let these Democrat’s bills be made public and considered.
Bryant: We are excited about a new vision for education.
Facts: As always, it boils down to funding. The Republicans have shown no interest in providing adequate financial resources to our schools. Don’t look for that to change. Big tax cuts for corporations will not provide additional funds for public schools. This week, they proposed a shift in funding for schools placing more of the burden on local businesses, homes, land and vehicles while removing that burden from the state. You have to fill those budget holes somewhere and Republicans think shifting taxes to locals by shorting state funds to schools gets it done.
Bryant: We have a plan for infrastructure development!
Facts: The conservative state Republican leadership says they will wait on federal dollars to cover immediate transportation needs and their budget mess. Bridges are crumbling and state highways are being maintained with slag instead of asphalt. Mississippi Republicans say they hate federal money all while taking the largest percentage of those dollars of any state in the nation. Balanced budget anyone?