Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on gas tax:
Conventional wisdom is that lawmakers are loathe to raise taxes in an election year. This year, though, Mississippi's Legislature should defy conventional wisdom when it comes to the gasoline tax.
With prices at the pump at their lowest point in six years — and even longer than that after adjusting for inflation — the Legislature may never have a better time psychologically to do what it should have done years ago: Raise the gas tax to a level that can support the maintenance of the state's highways, roads and bridges.
Mississippi has not adjusted its excise tax on fuel — 18.4 cents per gallon — since 1987. If it were just to keep up with inflation, the tax should be around 38 cents per gallon by now.
An inflationary increase is the least the state should do. It could be argued that the hike should be even more than that, since higher fuel efficiencies mean fewer gallons of gas are being purchased by the average motorist than they were 28 years ago.
Motorists might gripe some about a 20-cent-per-gallon increase, but they will gripe a lot less with gas prices around $2 per gallon than when they are at more than $3, which was the case a year ago.
Gas prices won't stay this low forever. Eventually, supply and demand are going to adjust, and the price is going to start going back up.
But what's not going to change, regardless of the price of gas, is the crisis in deferred maintenance of this state's infrastructure. In 2013, the state Senate commissioned a task force to look at the situation.
It determined that the state is spending only about a third of what it should to maintain its road and bridge system. Nothing has been done to correct that imbalance.
The wear and tear are adding up. A federal study last year estimated that 21 percent of Mississippi's bridges are deficient or obsolete, while 8 percent of the roads are in poor condition. That means potential hazards for motorists, delays from detours and damage to vehicles. It doesn't take many potholes or bumpy surfaces to mess up a vehicle's front-end alignment or wear out its shocks or struts. That's a hidden cost that many motorists don't realize from an inadequate fuel tax.
Lawmakers need to think about this. If they raise the gas tax now when fuel prices are low, the kickback — even in an election year — will be muted. If they wait until fuel prices return to a more normal level, the resistance will be greater.
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on Hank Bounds:
Hank Bounds, formally educated completely within Mississippi, has accepted the presidency of the University of Nebraska, whose systemwide enrollment is more than 50,000, and whose flagship Lincoln campus is iconic.
Bounds has been commissioner of higher education for eight universities in Mississippi since 2009.
Bounds served as state superintendent of education from 2005 to 2009 and before that was superintendent of the Pascagoula schools system.
Bounds has in his resume' many positive benchmarks in learning improvement at the district and statewide level.
He served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal of two high schools and a K-12 school. He holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Administration and Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi.
One of the goals preceding him to Lincoln is intentionally growing at the main Lincoln campus as well as Omaha, the second largest campus.