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.

Confirmed Cases: 15752

Reported Deaths: 739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds102826
Madison74223
Lauderdale74162
Neshoba67139
Jones65228
Scott64812
Forrest58338
DeSoto5507
Rankin4468
Holmes43428
Leake43112
Copiah3134
Jackson30713
Attala29817
Yazoo2834
Newton2784
Lincoln26629
Leflore26532
Harrison2617
Monroe26125
Oktibbeha24314
Lamar2395
Lowndes2199
Wayne2101
Pearl River20931
Pike20311
Adams20015
Washington1917
Noxubee1876
Warren17510
Covington1732
Bolivar16511
Jasper1634
Lee1546
Smith15211
Clarke14819
Kemper14511
Chickasaw13712
Lafayette1374
Coahoma1254
Winston1201
Carroll11711
Marion1179
Clay1144
Claiborne1102
Lawrence1061
Simpson1000
Tate951
Grenada953
Yalobusha945
Hancock9111
Itawamba887
Sunflower853
Wilkinson859
Montgomery851
Union845
Marshall813
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster682
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys597
Walthall570
Prentiss563
Tunica553
Perry503
Choctaw482
Jefferson421
Pontotoc363
Quitman340
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Greene161
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18354

Reported Deaths: 649
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2271118
Jefferson1859103
Montgomery175843
Tuscaloosa79916
Marshall7009
Franklin5628
Lee55033
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41418
Unassigned3842
Walker3702
Elmore3628
Chambers35825
Madison3434
Baldwin2929
Morgan2871
Dallas2793
Etowah26012
Lowndes25212
DeKalb2493
Coffee2381
Autauga2335
Sumter2247
Houston2214
Bullock2096
Pike2060
Colbert1862
Russell1750
Hale1759
Barbour1721
Marengo1716
Lauderdale1662
Calhoun1643
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1507
Cullman1471
Clarke1462
St. Clair1281
Randolph1277
Dale1220
Marion12211
Pickens1184
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1031
Greene954
Winston900
Macon854
Covington811
Jackson812
Henry802
Bibb761
Crenshaw753
Escambia723
Washington716
Blount631
Lawrence500
Monroe432
Geneva430
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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