Lawmakers must get serious fast

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Mississippi Legislature’s agenda is set and the task ahead is serious, if not a bit grim.

With sinking tax revenues, ending stimulus dollars and hurting residents, legislators’ most important task is to develop a balanced budget.

Doing so, though, will require leaving partisan politics at home, something that hasn’t occurred in years past.

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Last year lawmakers argued and bickered and didn’t get a budget passed in April, as is the usual custom. Instead they were in and out of session multiple times before finally passing a budget just before the July 1 start of a new fiscal year.

That was unacceptable and inefficient.

The people of Mississippi need fair, well-thought-out decisions from our lawmakers right now. We simply can’t afford to play political games and waste time.

Legislators started the 2010 session with a day of formalities Tuesday, but now it’s time to work.

We hope as the session continues our local leaders and those from across the state will remember to keep education at the forefront of their decisions. Those areas should be among the last to be cut.

And passage of a long overdue voter identification law is also in order. It’s silly that in 2010 our state still uses such an antiquated system at the polls.

Gov. Haley Barbour has outlined several cost cutting plans that deserve serious consideration. And working with the governor — not against him — will be a key to the success of our state.

The future of our state is in the hands of a few men and women meeting in Jackson for the next few months.

We hope they won’t let us down. And if they do, the voters will be watching with grim looks of their own.