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Mississippi editorial roundup

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm •  Published: July 22, 2015

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

July 13

The Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on adults being main education problem:

It is truly mindboggling what fools the Southern Co. execs in Atlanta think Mississippians are. As the power company's ill-conceived Kemper science project goes down the tube, it is resorting to the grossest of scare tactics. It is claiming that its subsidiary, Mississippi Power Co., will run out of cash without a major rate increase to pay for the coal gasification plant and implying the lights will go out.

What the Southern Co. conveniently fails to mention is that it is awash in cash to the tune of billions of dollars a year in profit. All Southern has to do is write a check to its subsidiary. But it would much rather let its Mississippi captive ratepayers pick up the tab for their executives' hubris and mistakes.

This is just one more example of the selfpromoting spin we have come to expect of the Southern Co. as it shovels millions of dollars into lobbying efforts and campaign contributions to curry favor with the political establishment. It is well on its way to charging twice as much for electricity as most other power companies in our state. This in itself should be a clarion call to the Mississippi Public Service Commission that something is rotten in the state.

The Southern Co. would never let Mississippi Power go under. Its monopoly position is far too valuable, especially when gaming the regulatory system in Mississippi is like taking candy from a baby. Second, the ownership structure of Mississippi Power is of no concern to Mississippi ratepayers. Even in the improbable event of bankruptcy, another utility holding company such as Entergy will acquire the assets, and consumers will notice nothing worse than lower bills. There is zero chance of one second of power interruption, and anyone familiar with the utility industry knows this.

This is the same old story. The Southern Co. laid an egg with Kemper, and now it wants a ratepayer bailout. Not only does it want an 18 percent increase now — to make up for the samesize increase it lost after the state Supreme Court ruled it had been illegally enacted — it's as much as said it will be back again early next year asking for another 22 percent on top of that. It claims that even if it gets the 18 percent hike requested, Mississippi Power will be broke again by February or March.

The Public Service Commission, when it meets Aug. 6 to consider the request, shouldn't fall for these alligator tears. It's a poker bluff. They are crying wolf. Just say no.

Mississippi Power running out of money? No kidding, giving the outlandish cost overruns of Kemper, which has yet to produce one kilowatt of lignite electricity. Not our problem. Time for the Southern Co. to pay for its own mistakes and bail out its own whollyowned subsidiary.



July 18

Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, on school funding amendment:

Education is a solid investment.

That is why parents save and sacrifice for years to pay for their children's education. That is why students are willing to go thousands of dollars in debt to earn university degrees. That is why savvy industry leaders, such as Ingalls Shipbuilding, invest a small fortune to build training centers.

That's why we recommend voters vote for Initiative 42, which would put in the state Constitution the requirement that the state fund an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.

The group of activists gathered the signatures to force the vote after the state failed for years to enforce its own Adequate Education funding program. We would argue that adequate education should be a starting point and excellent education the goal.

And we and supporters of the initiative agree that putting more money into schools does not guarantee better schools, but we believe it could not hurt their chance of success.

"Full funding won't guarantee success," said Claiborne Barksdale, the former CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute. "Continued failure to fund will virtually guarantee failure.'"

People on the Coast are lucky to have some fine schools, but can we expect to stay first-rate if they don't have first-rate budgets?

In Ocean Springs, taxpayers have gone all in for their schools. They pay all the tax for schools the law allows. But they rely on state money for the largest share of the schools budget.

Ocean Springs Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter estimates they have lost $18 million over the last five years as the state failed to uphold its own school-funding law.

In the meantime, the price of insurance and electricity has soared. To make ends meet, the district has had to let 41 employees go. Some were teachers and every time a teaching position is cut, class size grows. That is not a recipe for success.

The Legislature is so worried that pro-school forces will succeed they have cooked up an alternative that will be on the ballot, too. Ignore that smoke screen and vote for Initiative 42.

You will know it by this wording:

"Should the state be required to provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?"

Yes it should.



July 21

Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on Initiative 42:

Supporters of the statewide referendum question Initiative 42 are moving ahead with no added concern after a Hinds County chancery judge last week dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and a group of plaintiffs seeking full funding by court order for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

Initiative 42 was placed on the ballot in November by the petitioning of more than 200,000 Mississippi electors, as required under law. It remains the only reasonable choice for requiring a phasing in of full MAEP funding, which would mean funding under the formula for adequacy, which is not extravagance, as some opponents claim.

Every petition document was printed with a proposed or suggested phasing in of full funding for MAEP, and it did not call for a tax increase and was not anticipated to cause a funding shortfall or reductions in any other state agency or program.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has yet to rule in another lawsuit, Initiative 42A, which is a legislative initiative whose language was ordered changed by a different Hinds County chancellor following a legal complaint by a public school parent from Lafayette County.

The legislative initiative, it is widely believed, was a political attempt to scuttle Initiative 42 and, in effect, block any kind of mandate for full funding. The MAEP act itself requires full funding, but that has happened only twice in almost 20 years, such is the Legislature's disregard for some of the laws it passes.

Hinds Chancellor William Singletary dismissed Musgrove's lawsuit that claimed a 2006 state law mandated that the Legislature fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

Singletary's ruling against the Musgrove lawsuit means Initiative 42 is the only vehicle capable of getting the state's commitment, over time and responsibly, to full funding.

Language in the initiative also gives a Hinds County chancellor the jurisdiction to hear the case if someone files suit claiming the state - through the Legislature - is not fulfilling its commitment to public education, as has been the case most years.

After Musgrove's lawsuit was rejected by Singletary, 42 for Better Schools supporters said it is more important than ever to pass the initiative in November to ensure more education funding.

We agree.



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