Important issues on agenda as Legislature begins work


   By Kevin Horan, Legislator

   On Jan. 7, the Mississippi State Legislature convened in Jackson. I look forward to getting to work for the people of our district, and it appears we will have a very productive session with many important issues ready to address.
   Among the items we will consider is the funding of maintenance and repair to our road and bridge systems throughout the state. As always, we’ll be working toward job creation, and some of us believe that the road and bridge maintenance and repair program will help create good paying jobs.
   We also want to make sure that our healthcare providers’ jobs are protected, and I will continue in our efforts to create a medical corridor for the Grenada area.
   With the recent announcement of a budget surplus, I am hopeful that we can help our teachers and public employees receive raises for the first time in seven years. I will also continue working to protect the promises of the Public Employees Retirement System.
   In the realm of local economic development, I will continue to work toward passage of the Mississippi Main Street Investment Act, which will provide grants to rural towns and cities to revitalize their downtown areas. Grenada will certainly benefit from such a program.
   We will also be looking at reforms to our corrections system that will protect our citizens while implementing common sense punishment for wrongdoers and giving judges wider discretion in sentencing. Previous attempts at corrections reforms have fallen short of those goals, in my opinion.
   As always, public education and its funding will be an important topic before the legislature during this session. With millions in a budget surplus, we should be able to address many of the financial issues that continue to plague our schools.
   Jan. 15 was the deadline for filing general bills, and all bills must be out of committee by Feb. 4.
   During this session, I will work to fund across-the-board teacher pay raises. The legislature has failed to provide educators with cost of living increases for the last seven years. The last raise they did receive fell far short of bringing them to the Southeastern average.
   I am pleased that this appears to be a top priority for most House members, and the Mississippi Economic Council has stated its support as well.
   We entrust our children, our most cherished assets, and their very futures to our educators. If we truly value them and the work they do, we should take the action necessary to reward their hard work and dedication.
   It is a sad commentary that here in Mississippi we actually have professional educators who qualify for government financial assistance due to our inaction. While there are other ways in which we parents should show our support for teachers, administrators, and all school employees, we as legislators should certainly provide a vote of confidence with a salary increase.
   In addition, I will support full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). MAEP was created in 1997 to provide reliable funding to our schools but has only been funded twice since that time. Any program that is perpetually underfunded can only be expected to suffer. When programs intended to help our children don’t receive the necessary money, our children suffer.
   Please be sure to let me know when you’re planning to visit us in Jackson. I will be proud to introduce you to my colleagues.
   You are welcome to contact me with your concerns or comments on these or any other issues you believe our Legislature should address. Contact me at 662- 226-2185. at 601-359-2438 when we are in session, or e-mail me:

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