Lottery, school funding could get Mississippi debate in 2018

The Mississippi Legislature on Tuesday started its three-month session with plenty of issues to consider.

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 8:38 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Legislature on Tuesday started its three-month session with plenty of issues to consider.

Lawmakers could debate creating a lottery. They could try to rewrite a school funding formula. They could seek a long-term plan to pay for highway construction.

Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery. House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves both oppose creating one, but the Republican leaders have acknowledged that many legislators would like to vote on the issue.

"I do not believe it is the huge revenue increase that some have said it would be," Reeves told reporters Tuesday. "Because I think what you would see is some folks that are spending 100 percent of their disposable income ... rather than just going to the grocery store and buying a Coke or buying a pack of Nabs, they would instead go and buy lottery tickets."

In a separate interview Tuesday, Gunn said his top priorities are rewriting Mississippi's public school funding formula, finding more money for roads and bridges, and reauthorizing the state's Medicaid program.

"We want to find a formula that is predictable, that is understandable, that is reliable," Gunn said the proposed overhaul of the $2 billion-plus school funding formula.

Gunn said a bill was being drafted that would resemble many of the recommendations of EdBuild, a New Jersey-based nonprofit group that made suggestions last year at the behest of Republican leaders.

The current funding formula, called the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was put into law in 1997. It is intended to give each school district enough money to meet midlevel education standards, but legislators have only fully funded it two years.

Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory, who helped write the current formula, said legislators back then conducted committee meetings that were open to the public. He said the process this time is secretive.

"The fact that this has been going on now for more than a year and it's still taking place in secret ought to absolutely terrify everybody who cares about public education in the state of Mississippi," Bryan said Tuesday.

This is the second year of a four-year term. Republicans continue holding a supermajority in both the House and the Senate, after special elections to fill seats of legislators who left.

The GOP gained one Senate seat when Democrat Bill Stone of Holly Springs departed and a Republican, Neil Whaley of Potts Camp, was elected.

Republican Sen. Joel Carter of Harrison County was inaugurated Tuesday to succeed Sean Tindell of Gulfport, who was appointed to a nonpartisan judicial post.

Other new lawmakers were sworn in after winning special elections in 2017. Their elections did not change the partisan balance of power.

One seat remains open because Republican Rep. John Moore of Brandon resigned in early December. A special election is Feb. 20.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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