Legislature has little to show for its effort

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2000

If we wanted to label this year’s Mississippi legislative session, so far, it might be titled, &uot;Much Ado About Nothing.&uot;

Last week marked week No. 12 for this session with — as far as we can see — little to show for all the time spent.

We’ve heard much talk lately about how difficult the legislators’ job is this session because the state is experiencing a bit of a cash flow problem. Apparently tax revenues are about $36 million lower than originally expected.

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In light of this financial deficit, we realize that making legislative decisions will be difficult. But making tough decision is why lawmakers are sent to Jackson in the first place.

All we’ve heard about in the last week or two is what we can’t expect from this session, and legislators are quick to place blame for this on the tight budget.

But in reality several bills that would have greatly benefitted the taxpayers of Mississippi without causing an annual expense have been killed.

Two quickly come to mind. First was the bill that would modify the state Constitution to change the manner we choose a governor. The purpose was to prevent the debacle we experienced last November when no candidate won the majority of the votes which forced the House to vote on the matter.

The second bill that was allowed to die would have increased the educational requirements for the state’s justice court judges.

Neither of the bills would have caused a recurring financial expense.

And speaking of recurring expenses, last year we learned that during a special session the two houses cost about $30,000 per day to operate. If you take that figure and calculate what we’ve spent so far on this regular session, the figure is nearly $2 million.

And we’re not certain the taxpayers of Mississippi are getting their money’s worth.