Whether from Donald Trump or the GOP supermajority in the Mississippi Legislature, we hear constantly that Republicans want to "run government like a business." The problem is that many of them don't appear to know how legitimate, forward-looking, smart businesses actually work.
Take the most recent "Olivia Y" settlement (see page 10). For years, the State has neglected its responsibilities to invest in and manage the children's foster-care division properly and humanely. That's long been true with our juvenile-justice system and other services designed to help the people of Mississippi—the state's human capital. Instead of investing in people and progress, they seek to "drain swamps" and drown governments in bathtubs.
Too many legislators ignore the need for smart investment and act like they're only up there to destroy the government they run—with the side benefit of siphoning off sweet deals and corporate welfare from donations to their "campaign" funds.
GOP lawmakers also want to under-fund public education, continuing to ensure an inadequate work force in Mississippi. The result will be what you see in businesses that don't reinvest profits—a vicious cycle of less growth and fewer jobs.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves actually pushes the nonsensical idea that funding in poor school districts should be modeled around that in richer districts, where families with more resources put them to use buying uniforms, instructions, books, tutors and—oh, yeah—food. Reeves' logic? If communities that collect higher property taxes need less state money to educate kids, then communities that collect lower property taxes should also need less state money to educate kids. Good business? That's not even good math. People with common sense know it will cost extra to put adequate resources into schools in the poorest neighborhoods, but that investment in quality education will reap dividends for decades.
Heck, we can't even convince the Legislature to invest in infrastructure so we can improve road and bridge safety, and create more good jobs. How tough is it to decide to invest in problems everyone—rich or poor—can agree on? Nobody wants to fall through a bad bridge into a river. But too many "conservatives" in state government can't figure out that high-quality infrastructure is an investment any smart business would make in its future.
Smart, forward-thinking business owners don't starve their R&D departments or underfund basic needs of their human capital. They work to invest in the future and to get ahead of potential problems, not live from cut to cut. They make "business-like" decisions because they benefit all stakeholders, not a select few lobbyists and contractors.
The Legislature's un-business-like agenda is getting even worse under a greedy supermajority. They need to stop salivating over tax cuts and campaign donations and start making lasting investments in the state's future, or we all will pay for their lack of planning and investment down the road.