Report To The People
By Tommy Reynolds
Last week, House members were busy considering Senate measures in committee and voting on appropriations bills on the floor. March 4 is the committee deadline and February 26 was deadline for appropriation bills.
The appropriations measures took a dramatic turn in an effort to provide state employees with across-the-board $1,000 raises effective July 1. I drafted an amendment to House Bill 1476, the State Department of Education appropriation measure, which provides that employees of the agency will receive these raises beginning July 1.
This measure passed on a voice vote and, at this writing, was the only such effort to have survived a two-day floor deliberation on raise amendments to every agency funding bill considered. It is my hope that this will be a pattern that will apply to all state workers so that state employees will not be left behind in pay raise considerations.
Many of my colleagues and I believe our state employees deserve pay raise consideration, since most of them have not received any increase in salary for the past seven years. In fact, it was brought out during floor debate that some state employees are now bringing home less money than they were before the recession.
All indicators show that our general fund budget is in much better shape than we had anticipated at the beginning of the budget process. Add to that, the fact that the Attorney General sent us a check for over $52 million, and it appears that we should have more than enough money to help our employees.
Another effort that should see funding is a Trooper School. House Bill 303 was in the House Appropriation Committee at this writing. I sponsored this measure, which is a statement of support for a Trooper School. As you may remember, the ranks of our highway patrol troopers have been reduced to the point that counties may be without a patrolman on their highways.
We should certainly have enough money to afford this most important public safety measure, which should cost about $7 million. The actual appropriation bill for this class by tradition usually originates in the Senate, but some of us in the House wanted to show our support in House Bill 303. The Governor is also on board for a new Trooper School. I hope our mutual efforts succeed.
Of importance to our rural municipalities and counties is the passage of House Bill 1533, which provides a $5 million bond for use by these entities in making infrastructure and public property improvements. I was a strong supporter of this program in 2001 when the Small Municipalities and Limited Population Coun-ties Fund was first instituted. Under the current measure, municipalities with fewer than 10,000 population and counties with fewer than 30,000 can apply for bonds to help meet critical local needs such as urgently needed water, sewer and government building re-pairs. It is important to offer our rural areas every opportunity possible to attract economic development. Economic development is more possible when entities demonstrate a desire to improve the quality of life for their residents. This measure should go a long way in helping rural areas improve assets that suffered under the past recession. I am proud to have co-sponsored this bill, and hope that the Senate will concur.
Please feel free to contact me at 1720 N . Main Street, Water Valley, MS 38965, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (662) 473-2571.
I look forward to hearing from you on any issue that you may have.