‘Stepford Senators' Hold Education Hostage | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

‘Stepford Senators' Hold Education Hostage

Not one person at the Capitol can remember a Mississippi legislative session ending without a budget. Well, once again the 2005 Legislature might be producing another famous legislative first for the Magnolia state.

As we go to press, the question of whether or not both chambers of the Legislature come to an agreement on the budget for the new fiscal year starting July 1 by Tuesday, April 5, is really pressing. If they don't find a common denominator on funding education and the rest of the programs, then Gov. Haley Barbour will exercise his power to call a special session and set the session's agenda. His agenda would involve a long process of feeding the chambers one appropriations bill at a time.

This lack of a budget also would cause chaos for local school districts, which are bound by law to offer teachers their contracts for next year by April 15. Furthermore, the lawmakers are working with a $3.8 billion budget, yet they have about $500,000 less than what is requested by the state.

The House offered an alternative last Saturday; they passed a resolution to extend the session until April 10. However, the Senate didn't take up their plan.
Some, like reporter Geoff Pender of the Sun Herald on the Coast, say the reason the Senate isn't taking up their plan is because they are the "Stepford Senators," doing the bidding of Gov. Haley Barbour.

In a March 27 column, Pender stated: "All the reporters in the Capitol press corps teamed to poll the 52-member Senate on how they might vote on a cigarette tax increase. As I questioned my allotment of senators, I realized something strange was going on. All the Republican ones were making the same comments, in many cases verbatim, about government spending, taxes, education funding, etc."

He then explained why, saying that Gov. Haley Barbour had called the GOP lawmakers to the Mansion the night before—"apparently a come-to-Jesus meeting about his policy and legislation goals"—to give them a document entitled "Talking Points for the Pro-Education Senate." Associated Presss reporter Emily Wagster Pettus got her hands on a leaked copy that showed exactly why the senators started sounding like Stepford clones of the governor.

Angry critics are also accusing Lt. Gov Amy Tuck of being a marionette manipulated by Barbour. At a boisterous education rally on April Fool's Day, former Rep. Bill Jones, a Democrat who served in the state House for more than a decade, said that Tuck should "reclaim" the authority of her office from the governor. Jones, who also serves on the state Board of Education claimed, "She [Tuck] was elected statewide, just like the members of the House and the members of the Senate were elected. She acts as if she is appointed by the governor."

Previous Comments

ID
64558
Comment

You do realize of course this is all about getting government experience, holding down taxes, and going for a future White House occupancy, right? I mean what GOP presidential candidate worth his salt would ever raises taxes to fund education?

Author
GDIModerate
Date
2005-04-07T09:11:50-06:00
ID
64559
Comment

ha, actually, yes I do...but more will be mentioned of all this in later coverage.

Author
Brett Potter
Date
2005-04-08T12:14:53-06:00
ID
64560
Comment

To prove he's not really anti-education, there's a new children's intro-to-politics book coming out: "Barbour the Elephant."

Author
GDIModerate
Date
2005-04-08T12:18:53-06:00
ID
64561
Comment

Brett, you are right on the money, here. And GDIModerate, you made my day. . . (I'm grinning so big my ears are wiggling.) Great to be right and funny at the same time. :-)

Author
C.W.
Date
2005-04-10T09:03:58-06:00
ID
64562
Comment

Babar.. er.. Barbour's antics continue to anger people. Here's some light reading from a wide perspective for you. Sid Salter does it yet again. Lloyd Gray puts in his two cents. The Hattiesburg American says a few things. And for those still not convinced on why "Babar" is doing what he is doing, even local papers have caught on now.

Author
GDIModerate
Date
2005-04-12T12:46:29-06:00

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