Friday, July 25, 2014

Phil Bryant Forgets Law He Pushed

During Phil Bryant's 2014 State of the State Address, he urged lawmakers to add the phrase "In God We Trust." That bill, through many changes, turned into one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to pass this year. It even led to the bill being called the "Freedom to Discriminate Bill."

Still, Bryant made a big push for the change to the seal. Now that the bill is in effect, Bryant must have forgotten for what he fought. In his letter to President Obama last week, Bryant's official letterhead does not bear the new state seal. According to the law Bryant signed, "the margin over the eagle shall have the inscription "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI." The margin under the eagle shall have the inscription "IN GOD WE TRUST."



It is entirely possible Bryant will say "We had all this leftover stationery lying around and didn't want it to go to waste." I never took Bryant to be an environmentalist, but I'm truly glad to now know this.

On another level, it is a relief that Bryant did not associate God with his misguided letter. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said that we should "Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom from heaven belongs to people like these."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Phil Bryant Continues to Push Mississippi Way Off Course

Another report released this week shows Mississippi, once again, at the bottom of the list when it comes to child health, education, and economics. This report comes days after Mississippi was noted as having the worst unemployment rate in the country. Let the graphics below speak for themselves.





We still have half of our children not attending pre-kindergarten! Early childhood education is critical to keeping kids in school and giving them a stronger start in life, yet we have half of them not doing so. We still have far too many students not learning critical skills in math and reading, skills they must have in order to be competitive in today's global economy. 

Troubling numbers in Mississippi's child poverty rate show trouble on the horizon. Unless a focus on poverty in Mississippi becomes a focus of our state government, another generation of poor Mississippians will continue the cycle of chronic poverty in our state.

Governor Phil Bryant gets the credit for these standings. When the unemployment numbers came out last week, this was Bryant's response:
Bryant attributed the slowness of Mississippi's recovery to a surplus of residents who aren't sufficiently educated or trained, which he said he was trying to change.
"I think a lot of them have dropped out of school, a lot of them are not properly trained for advanced manufacturing" Bryant said. "We haven't done as good a job as we should in training workers for the future."
Bryant says that we are better off than we were a couple of years ago, but his leadership keeps us on the very bottom of the lists! Under Bryant's watch, not only is our unemployment the worst in the country, but he admits that he has not done his job when it comes to doing things necessary to improve our state's economic situation. Bryant admitted in a radio interview this week that he does not want to invest in education because it costs money! It is the most illogical thought process. Not only has Bryant failed to create employment opportunities in the state, he is failing to invest in education and training our young people to prepare for the jobs of the future.

This is the Republican Party Phil Bryant is fighting for!

Bryant Economy Costs More Mississippi Jobs

Reports released last week show that under Republican Governor Phil Bryant's watch, the state of Mississippi has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Now, news is coming out that the Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi is closing its doors and taking about 350 jobs with it. Earlier this year, the Harrah's casino in Tunica closed and over 1,000 jobs were lost in the poorest region in our state. These job losses are tragedies for the individuals and families involved. Yet, once again, Bryant throws up his hands and claims there's nothing more he could have done.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Phil Bryant Beats His Chest, Misplaces Priorities

Phil Bryant recently wrote a letter to the President about issues along the southern border of the United States. Bryant addresses the letter to the "Honorable" Barack Obama and didn't make note that his Tea Party base does not believe the President to be the legitimate President of the United States. Please do not share this post with the Tea Party or the calls for Bryant's own impeachment may commence. You're welcome, Governor.

Bryant complains in his letter that the President's immigration plan would levy an unfunded mandate onto the states to enforce immigration law. Hold the phone! Remember back in 2012 when Bryant and Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) pushed a state-level immigration bill through the House of Representatives? It would have pushed an unfunded mandate on local governments to house and feed suspected undocumented persons. Bryant has no standing to complain on this point.

Bryant argues that the President has "lax immigration policies and flagrant disregard for federal immigration law." Again, Bryant gets it wrong. Let's keep in mind that the Democrats have passed their own version of immigration reform through the United States Senate while the Republicans continue to do nothing. Furthermore, the President has been in command during one of the largest levels of deportations and removals than his recent predecessors - even Republican idol Ronald Reagan who approved amnesty, by the way.

Bryant threatens to do whatever he can as the governor of this state to prevent the federal government from housing asylum-seeking children in Mississippi. Bryant, mind you, lives in government housing at the twice-renovated Governor's Mansion. That's another topic for another time. Still, Bryant makes the state's rights issue out of this. Let's keep in mind that when it comes to health care, Bryant ignores his own advice when it comes to the "real and substantial costs on the states." He refuses to take any action to help nearly 500,000 hard-working Mississippians obtain health insurance coverage.

All the while, Bryant is basing this letter on rumors - yes, rumors - that there may be a need to house children in the state of Mississippi or elsewhere. Rather than try to help solve the problems, whether it's health care or the state's chronically high unemployment, Phil Bryant would rather fire off tough-sounding letters. Bryant's priorities continue to be out of touch.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mississippi's Unemployment Rate Nation's Highest

The Phil Bryant economy continues to drag Mississippi down. Reports out this afternoon show Mississippi's unemployment rate to now be the country's highest - now at 7.9 percent. This now means over 100,000 Mississippians are out of a job.

We should point out that unemployment in Mississippi has been over seven percent for the entirety of the Bryant terms as governor at lieutenant governor. For all the Republican hot air about being pro-business, the government handouts they give to their friends do not seem to be paying off. Either these are very bad returns on investment, the Republicans do not have any idea what they're doing, or both.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Open Invitation to Mississippi Republicans

I know these are troubling times in the life of the Mississippi Republican Party. It's understandable. The Republican Primary for the US Senate race last month brought out the worst in our state's politics. From nursing home trespassing to getting locked in a courthouse to widespread outrage over alleged illegal voting taking place, the Republican Party has a quite mess on its hands. The worst of the mess has only begun.

Such a mess recently led former Mississippi College Republicans President Evan Alvarez to withdraw from the Republicans and join the Democratic Party. I empathize with his frustrations about leaving the Republican Party. I was similarly aggravated when the Republican Party left me in 2004. For years, I chose to sit quietly and support a political party that I knew didn't match my ideals. At the same time, I did not understand how I could support a party that did not share my values on economics, social justice, science, and the list goes on. Finally, I had enough of the Republican nonsense and made the switch.

I cannot help but think that there are more folks like Evan and me who were quietly so fed up with the Republican Party yet chose to say nothing until it became unbearable. It was liberating to make the switch to the Democratic Party knowing that this political party was more in line with my way of thinking. My conservative family was a bit shocked at first, but now we disagree without being too disagreeable.

My message to those quiet Republican dissidents is this: It's fine to be a Democrat, even in Mississippi. It may be difficult at first to openly switch fearing the judgement of family, friends, and coworkers. I get the concern, but it's your life to live. You only get one shot at this. Come on over to the Democrats! We may not be perfect, but the Republicans are just plain nuts!

Sincerely,

Ryan Brown
Chairman, Rankin County Democrats
Treasurer, Mississippi Democratic Party
President, Young Democrats of Mississippi

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bryant Trots Out Crappy Incentives

It was reported today that a paper products company will move production to Hattiesburg and hire roughly 300 persons over the five years.

Let's add up what the state and local governments are giving this company to hire workers at a "projected" salary of $38,000 per year to make toilet paper.
  • $12 million in aid and tax incentives
  • Local officials leasing 40 acres to the company
  • $9.75 million in local property tax breaks
  • $629,000 to clear the land 
  • $879,000 in water upgrades
Now, let's divide the approximately $23 million in tax credits and other government handouts by the 300 employees they will potentially hire. That's about $77,500 per job - jobs they say will pay about $38,000 per year.

What about the workers? They will not get these lavish tax credits. Their take home pay will not match anywhere near the folks cutting these deals with the Bryant administration. Bear in mind that per capita income in Mississippi today is $9,000 less than it was in 2000. In sum, we are paying more for jobs that pay less.

This is another reason the state should commit itself to creating our own Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In a nutshell, the EITC is a subsidy for working families with low incomes. It has lifted millions of poor Americans and their families out of poverty. Right now, Mississippians can only quality for the federal EITC while 24 other states and the District of Columbia have an EITC of their own.

While the manufacturer gets handouts from the state, it is only fair that workers should get a credit for their hard work too.

Monday, July 7, 2014

HOLY BOONDOGGLE, BATMAN! Or "Has anyone seen our $70M?"

KiOR, the biofuels manufacturer, has four more months to begin repaying its $69.4M loan that the State of Mississippi made to it at the urging of former Gov. Haley Barbour (R - MS).  The State apparently passed up on the opportunity to seize KiOR's Columbus plant, which apparently doesn't work worth a dang anyway.

Read this entirely-too-depressing story here.


Gov. Winter reflects on his church, Jackson in the Civil Rights Era

Yesterday, former Mississippi Governor William Winter (D) gave the following oration at Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson.  Take 15 minutes and give it a listen.  There's some good stuff in there about Jackson, civil rights, and his church.


53 years ago today, Rep. John Lewis (D - Georgia) was released from Parchman

On July 7, 1961, a young man named John Lewis was released from the Parchman State Penitentiary for using a "whites-only" restroom here in Jackson.  Here's his mug shot:


And here he is today in his Congressional photo, wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom that he earned through his work in the Civil Rights Movement:


I can't help but wonder what those who arrested Rep. Lewis back then think of him now.  (I guess I could always go to a local GOP meeting and ask, couldn't I?)