Lawmakers pass welfare verification bill along party lines | @ISSUE | MPB


[MUSIC] HELLO, I’M WILSON STRIBLING. WELCOME TO ANOTHER EDITION OF @ ISSUE WERE WE DISCUSS AND DEBATE THE ISSUES FACING THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI AND HOW THESE ISSUES IMPACT YOU. THAT ISSUE TONIGHT, A BILL PASSED BY THE SENATE THAT WOULD ALLOW THE STATE AUDITOR TO EXAMINE THE TAX RETURNS OF PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE FEDERAL BENEFITS LIKE MEDICAID FIRST FOOD STAMPS. WERE PUBLICANS IN THE JOSH HARKINS AUTHORED THE BILL AND IS CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. THE BILL WAS DEBATED FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR ON THE SENATE FLOOR. LET’S TAKE A LOOK.>>SO THIS WILL GIVE US A WAY TO DETERMINE TRUE ELIGIBILITY WE CURRENTLY DO NOT HAVE.>>CORRECT. IT WILL HELP VERIFY.>>SO MY QUESTION WOULD BE, IF YOU ARE GOING TO RECEIVE TAXPAYER FUNDS, WHY ARE WE ALREADY DOING THIS?>>THAT IS WHAT WE ARE HERE TODAY TO DO TO SET THIS UP.>>THANK YOU.>>THE REAL MONEY, AS WE ALL KNOW, IS WITH PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE PRIVATE CONTRACTS THAT INVOLVE FEDERAL MONEY FROM THESE AGENCIES AND PEOPLE WHO ARE PROVIDERS. AND IT JUST SEEMS TO ME THIS IS A PUNITIVE MEASURE DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE THE POOREST PEOPLE FOR STATEMENT COUNTRY WHEN HE OUGHT TO HAVE MORE AUTHORITY THAN HE ALREADY HAS TO GO AFTER THE PEOPLE WERE DEALING WITH THE BIG BUCKS.>>HE OUGHT TO GO AFTER WHERE HE FINDS A GOOD WITH IT ON THE PROVIDER SIDE, WEATHERS IN THE AGENCY WITH THE RECIPIENT. THE MONEY IS THE MONEY. OESN’T MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM, IS TAX DOLLARS BEING USED TO FUND THESE PROGRAMS. AND WHETHER IT IS A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY OR BIG AMOUNT OF MONEY, IT IS STILL MONEY BEING MISSPENT AND MISAPPROPRIATED.>>ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE RECENT ISSUE THAT SOME OF US HAVE BEEN CONTACTED ABOUT ABOUT CERTAIN MEDICAID BENEFICIARIES WHO ARE ON THE ISSUE WERE WHO WERE NOT GLOBAL TO BE ON THE PROGRAM? AND THAT WAS DEALING WITH CERTAIN SPECIAL NEEDS THAT THEY WERE NOT BY THEIR INCOME, WERE NOT ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE PROGRAM YET RECEIVING VISIT BENEFITS?>>THAT’S WHAT IHAVE BEEN TOLD, YES.>>AND IF THIS IS PUT INTO PLACE, THAT WOULD PREVENT THINGS LIKE THAT FROM HAPPENING , CORRECT?>>Wilson Stribling: DEMOCRAT JOHN OF JACKSON SAID HE SPOKE WITH THE STATE DIVISION OF MEDICAID AND WAS TOLD THERE IS NO ISSUE WITH RECIPIENTS CHEATING DURING FLOOR DEBATE, KORN SAID MEDICAID RECERTIFIED APPLICANTS FOR COMPLIANCE EVERY YEAR REALLY POINTED OUT THERE IS ALSO A MEDICAID FRAUD DECISION WITHIN THE AGENCY AND ANOTHER IN THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE. HORNS THAT HE BELIEVED THE SENATE BILL PUNISHES THE POOR IN MISSISSIPPI.>>RECIPIENTS OF THE SUPPORT ANOTHER PROBLEM. BUT THEY ARE NOT THE ONES WHO ARE CHEATING. THEY ARE NOT THE ONES WHO ARE STEALING AND EMBEZZLING. THEY ARE BASICALLY BEING STIGMATIZED FOR BEING POOR. AND I DON’T THINK THAT IS FAIR TO THEM. I THINK IT IS MISGUIDED AS WELL BECAUSE WE’RE GONNA SPEND ALL THESE RESOURCES AND ALL THIS EFFORT TO GO AFTER A PROBLEM THAT DOESN’T EXIST.HIS IS A MEASURE THAT THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE FEDERAL LEVEL IS PUTTING FORTH . IT’S CONSISTENT WITH THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATIONS ATTACK ON THE POOR.AND SO I DON’T AGREE IT’S SOMETHING NECESSARY OR NEEDED. IT IS DISCRETIONARY. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR THEM TO DO THIS. IS NOT A STATUTORY REQUIREMENT ORDERED BY CONGRESS. AND CONGRESS IS THE ONE WHO MAKES THE LAWS IN THE STATE WHO THE PRESIDENT IS DOING IS OVERREACH. AND HE IS DOING IT BECAUSE HIS POLICIES SEEM TO INDICATE WE NEED TO GO AFTER THE POOR AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. SO I DON’T AGREE WITH IT AND I THINK IT IS VERY MUCH UNNEEDED AND IN OVERREACH.>>Wilson Stribling: DURING THE DEBATE THERE WERE MANY REFERENCES TO THE RECENT FORMULA DOLLAR EMBEZZLEMENT CASE INVOLVING THE FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES. A STAFF MEMBER AND OTHERS WHO RECEIVED FUNDS THROUGH THE AGENCY. REPUBLICAN SENATOR JOSH HARKINS SAYS FRAUD AND MISMANAGEMENT ON ANY LEVEL ARE A CONCERN AND THAT THE AUDITOR MUST COMPLY WITH FEDERAL GUIDELINES.>>THERE IS FRAUD APPARENTLY ON EVERY LEVEL AND ALL FOR ROOTING OUT ALL OF IT. WHETHER IT’S ON THE PROVIDER SIDE, WHETHER IT’S AT THE AGENCY OR ON THE RECIPIENT. THERE IS STILL TAX DOLLARS. THIS IS A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MONEY, THIS IS TAXED ALL THE MONEY BEING UTILIZED. SO IF THERE IS ONE PERSON ON IT THAT SHOULDN’T BE ON IT, THEY SHOULDN’T BE. IT PRESERVES THE PROGRAM FOR THOSE THAT NEED IT. AND SO I WOULD ARGUE THAT WE SHOULD ROOT OUT ANY WASTE WHERE IT RESIDES. WEATHERS WITH RECIPIENTS, WHETHER IT’S WITH THE PROVIDERS OR WHETHER IT IS MISMANAGEMENT WITHIN THE AGENCY. I THINK WITH THIS AUDIT IS GOING TO DO IS IT IS GOING TO LOOK AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE DETERMINING PROPERLY THOSE MEDICAID CATEGORIES THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR OUR CITIZENS TO QUALIFY FOR. BACK IN I THINK IT WAS 2010 COME THE HHS INSPECTOR GENERAL STARTED DOING AUDITS AND FOUND OVER $280 MILLION OF IMPROPER PAYMENTS TO AN ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS AND MEDICAID. SO THAT’S WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO. IF ANYTHING, IT WILL BE AND NOTICE THAT WE ARE DOING IT RIGHT, THERE REALLY WASN’T MUCH THOUGHT HERE. THAT’S GREAT. I HOPE THAT’S WHAT THEY FIND. AT THE END OF THE DAY, THIS IS A DIRECTOR FROM THE FINS THAT SIGNIFY OVER $5 BILLION TO FUND MEDICAID IN MISSISSIPPI. IF THEY WANT TO AUDIT THEIR FUNDS, THAT’S THEIR PREROGATIVE. IN THE AUDITOR IS SEEKING THE ABILITY TO USE THOSE TAX RETURNS TO MATCH ÃTHEY ARE NOT AUDITING TAX RETURNS. THEY ARE LOOKING AT THEM ATTHE DIVISION OF MEDICAID.>>Wilson Stribling: THE MEASURE PASSED 34/15 ALONG PARTY LINES. AND NOW HEADS TO THE HOUSE .>>>THIS WEEK GOVERNOR TATE REEVES ANNOUNCED A SPECIAL ELECTION WILL BE HELD APRIL 21 TO FILL A VACANCY IN HOUSE DISTRICT 88. REPUBLICAN OF JONES COUNTY RESIGNED JUST TWO WEEKS INTO HER TERM AMID PRESSURE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HER STATE RETIREMENT BENEFITS AND HER SEAT IN THE HOUSE. THERE ARE THREE OTHER FRESHMAN REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS IN A SIMILAR PREDICAMENT. A SPEAKER PHILIP GUNN TOLD DOES REFRESHER WHY IT IS NOT RIGHT FOR LAWMAKERS TO DRAW THEIR STATE PENSION WHILE SERVING PART-TIME IN THE LEGISLATOR.>>THERE ARE THREE REASONS. ONE IS, IS THE LAW.HE SECOND REASON IS IT’S A LAW THE THIRD REASON IS IT IS A LOT. THIS PROCEDURE FOR CHANGING THE LAW WHICH I HAVE ENCOURAGED THEM TO DO. THEY FILED A BILL IN THE COMMITTEE SOUNDLY AND ROUNDLY REJECTED IT. IT HAS BEEN THE LAW FOR 70 YEARS THERE TRY TO CIRCUMVENT A LOT. THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE. THEY CAN BE ÃTHEY CAN OFFER ANY KIND OF EXCUSE THAT THEY WANT, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS THEY HAVE YET TO EXPLAIN HOW THE PROPOSED TO GET AROUND THE LAW.AND THAT’S IT. THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE. IT’S AS SIMPLE.>>WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO CHANGE LAW?>>THERE HAVE BEEN BILLS FILED FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS. ACCOUNTED ABOUT EIGHT THAT HAVE BEEN FILED TO CHANGE THE LAW, INCLUDING THREE OR FOUR THIS YEAR THE COMMITTEE TOOK UP LAST WEEK AND ALL OF THEM HAVE DIED. THE LEGISLATOR IS NOT WILLING TO CHANGE THE LAW. THE PUBLIC POLICY BEHIND THIS IS SOLID, IT’S GOOD, IT’S ABOUT JUST PUBLICINTEREST. WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO IS DRAW RETIREMENT AND LEGISLATIVE . IN THE LEGISLATOR FOR 70 YEARS HAS SAID THAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. IS THAT SIMPLE. IT IS JUST A LOT.>>Wilson Stribling: THE QUALIFYING DEADLINE FOR DISTRICT 88 SPECIAL ELECTION IS MARCH 2. IF NO CANDIDATE RECEIVES A MAJORITY OF VOTES IN THE APRIL 21 ELECTION, THERE WILL BE A RUNOFF ON MAY 12.>>>RECENT INMATE ON INMATE VIOLENCE IN MISSISSIPPI’S PRISONS AND THE DEATHS OF AT LEAST 16 INMATES AT THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS LOOKING TO MOVE INMATES OUT OF THE UNIT THAT PARCHMENT WHERE MOST OF THE VIOLENCE OCCURS. SOUTH CORRECTIONS COMMITTEE PASSED A BILL REQUIRING A DETAILED ESTIMATE OF COSTS TO REPAIR AND RENOVATE THE WALNUT GROVE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY IN LEE COUNTY. HOUSE BILL 756 ALLOCATES UP TO $50,000 TO THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION FOR THE STUDY. REPUBLICAN KEVIN MORAN OF GRANADA SHARES THE HOUSE CORRECTION COMMITTEE. HE TELLS DESIREE FRAZIER IT’S AN OPTION WORTH LOOKINGAT.>>WHAT WE DID TODAY WAS LOOK AT THE WALNUT GROVE FACILITY AND GET SOME FUNDING TO GET THE FAA TO GO DOWN THERE AND ASSESS IT AND DETERMINE WHAT IS GOING TO COST TO GET IT UPGRADED SO IT CAN HOUSE JUST ABOUT ANY CLASS OF INMATE. AND THAT’S BASICALLY WHAT WE HAD ACCOMPLISHED TODAY IN COMMITTEE.>>IN THAT COMMUNITY THERE HAVE BEEN FOLKS THAT HAVE MET AND SAID THEY DON’T WANT THE FACILITY REOPENED. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?>>I DON’T KNOW POLITICAL HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON THAT. THAT’S JUST AN OPTION THAT IS A FACILITY THERE THAT NEEDS TO BE LOOKED AT. HOPEFULLY IF WE DECIDE TO GET IT OPEN TO OTHER OWNERS DECIDE TO OPEN IT, THEY CAN WORK OUT ANY DIFFERENCES THAT THEY HAVE DOWN THERE IN THE AREA. AND IF THEY DECIDE TO OPEN IT, MAYBE THOSE THINGS CAN GET WORKED OUT.>>Wilson Stribling: IN A SENATE CORRECTIONS MEETING, STATE SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE MICHAEL RANDOLPH SAID MORE INTERVENTION COURTS, INCLUDING THOSE FOR DRUG ADDICTIONS, MENTAL HEALTH AND VETERANS ISSUES COULD REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING TO PRISON TO BEGIN WITH. IS ASKING FOR 2.$1 MILLION TO CREATE 19 NEW COURTS.>>IF WE EXPAND THE NUMBER TO ALSO INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH. BECAUSE AS ONE PROBLEM IS YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE. YOU HAVE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AND SHOULDN’T EVEN BE THERE. SO TO IDENTIFY IT AT A LOCAL LEVEL WHO THOSE PEOPLE ARE AND WE CAN HAVE GREAT SUCCESS LIKE WE HAVE HAD IN THE DRUG COURTS BECAUSE ONCE PEOPLE BECOME ACCOUNTABLE TO A JUDGE AND TO A GROUP, THEY DO WELL. AND THEY WILL TAKE THEIR MEDICATIONS AND THEY WILL STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. THEN ALSO FOR VETERANS. AGAIN, WAS A VETERAN OF THE VIETNAM WAR. WAS ALSO A VETERAN COMING OUT OF LAW SCHOOL. VETERANS HAVE SPECIAL ISSUES. ON THEIR HEALTH RELATED. MENTAL HEALTH AND VETERANS ISSUES OR ILLNESS ISSUES. DRUG COURTS ARE ADDICTION ISSUES. JUST BECAUSE A PERSON IS AN ADDICT DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN THE LIKELIHOOD OF THEIR FUTURE SUCCESS IS GOING TO BE REDUCED IF THEY GO.F WE GET THEM IN A DRUG COURT AND HAVE THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEY ARE GOING HOME AND TAKING CARE OF THE WIFE AND KIDS MAINTAIN THEIR JOB GETTING TWICE WEEK PAID FOR THE OWN DRUG TEST. SO WE CAN FRONTLOAD ÃI DON’T WANT TO SAY FRONTLOAD. WE ARE REDUCING AGGRESSION SKITS TO START WITH.>>BRADLEY, CEO OF THE NONPROFIT MISSISSIPPI PRISON INDUSTRIES. HE SAID RECIDIVISM IN MISSISSIPPI IS A BIG ISSUE BUT HE TOLD LAWMAKERS THAT IN FISCAL YEAR 2019, THE STATE SPENT $40.18 TO HOUSE ONE OFFENDER FOR ONE MONTH DAY. NOW WITH 19,000 OFFENDERS, IS THAT IT COSTS MISSISSIPPI TAXPAYERS MORE THAN $900,000 EVERY DAY.LONG BELIEVES THE STATE COULD SAVE MORE MONEY BY IMPLEMENTING MORE WORKFORCE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE LEAVE PRISON AS IMPROVED INDIVIDUALS. HE TELLS DESIREE FRAZIER THAT ABOUT 619,000 INMATES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ARE EMPLOYED THROUGH HIS NONPROFIT AND WORKING IN FACTORIES AT FOUR PRISON FACILITIES ACROSS THE STATE.>>OUR GUYS ARE ALL IN SIGHT, IN CUSTODY AND IN THE CUSTODY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. THEY APPLY FOR AND RECEIVE OPPORTUNITIES TO WORK FOR US INSIDE OUR FACTORIES, INSIDE ON ON THE GROUNDS OF OUR STATE PRISONS.>>AND CONFUSED BECAUSE WE ARE STILL HEARING THERE IS NO WORKFORCE TRAINING.>>WHEN YOU LOOK AT POPULATION SIZE OF 20,000 INMATES AND HAD THE CAPABILITIES TO EMPLOY ROUGHLY 3 AND HALF PERCENT OF THE TOTAL POPULATION SIZE, 550, 550 TO 600. OR TOTAL CAPABILITIES ARE AROUND 650. LOOK, AS I SAID AND I HAVE BELIEVED WHOLEHEARTEDLY, WE HAVE TO GROW THAT NUMBER. THE REALITY IS IF YOU WANT TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT REENTRY OPPORTUNITIES, WE HAVE TO GROW THE NUMBER TO 30 TO 40 TO 50 PERCENT OF OUR INMATES HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK. ONCE THAT HAPPENS, WE WILL START SEEING THERE’S A WORK ETHIC BEING INSTILLED IN OUR PRISON POPULATION THAT ALLOWS FOR THEM TO NOT RECIDIVATE. GO OUT AND GET A JOB AND ULTIMATELY HAVE LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY.>>WHAT TYPE OFJOBS ARE AVAILABLE?>EVERYTHING FROM A METAL FACTORY, GARMENT SHOPS, PRINT FACTORY . WE HAVE ALL THE TRADE SKILLS OUT THERE AND CERTAINLY WE ARE LOOKING AT AREAS OF CARPENTRY WE HAD SHUT DOWN AT ONE POINT IN A WE ARE TRYING TO REVIVE THAT. WE ARE LOOKING AT PIPE HITTING OPPORTUNITIES IN CONJUNCTION WITH FOLKS LIKE INGALLS AND OTHER BIGCOMPANIES OUT THERE . WE ARE LOOKING AT EVEN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES.>>DEMOCRAT ONE BARNETT SHARES THE SENATE CORRECTION COMMITTEE. pHE SAID HE SUPPORTS EIDETIC SPENDING INTERVENTION COURTS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ENTERING PRISON WORKFORCE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES. TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF EX-OFFENDERS RETURNING TO PRISON. HE SAID HE AND OTHER LAWMAKERS WILL BE INTRODUCING BILLS THAT ADDRESS THOSE REFORMS.>>THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT WE CAN DO PREVENTATIVE WAY TO KEEP FROM SENDING EVERYBODY TO PRISON. AND I HAVE BEEN TO A DRUG COURT. GRADUATION. AND I SEE IT FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE FAMILY. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR IT SO IF WE COULD PUT SOME MONEY IN PLACE TO TAKE CARE OF THOSE THINGS ON THE FRONT END, THAT REDUCES THE RATE. IT IS GETTING PEOPLE BACK OUT TO THE REAL WORLD WITH ANY TO BE AT LOOKING AT IT. MOST OF ALL, A RESOURCE A FAMILY.>>WE HAD TO HAVE MORE WORKFORCE TRAINING.E DO. IS NOT TO THE BEST OF THE INDIVIDUAL BEEN RELEASED TO NOT HAVE TO HAVE WORKFORCE TRAINING, NOT HAVE TO TYPE JOB SKILLS AND NOT TO HAVE THAT HE OR SHE NEEDS. NOT ONLY TO JUDGE BUT TO THE GENTLEMAN IN DOCUMENTATION. MY THING IS I HAVE BEEN TALKED ABOUT SINCE I’VE BEEN HERE IS WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THE INDIVIDUALS WORKING TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE KEEPING THEM FROM HAVING A MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTATION THEY CAN HAVE WHEN THEY ARE RELEASED AS A DRIVERS LICENSE. THEY HAVE TO HAVE THIS. AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE PROVIDE THEM WITH THAT. NOT ONLY THAT CAN THEY GET OUT AND GO TO WORK, BUT THEY CAN GET OUT AND GO TO WORK WITHOUT HAVING THE FEAR OF BEING PULLED OVER, DRIVING WITHOUT DRIVERS LICENSE WHEN THEY ARE HONESTLY JUST TRYING TO DO THE BEST THEY CAN. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE AND IF THEM TO SPEND SOME MONEY TODAY TO ENSURE THAT, I THINK IT IS MONEY WELL SPENT IN YEARS TO COME.>>OFFICIALS WITH THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY ARE ASKING FOR A HEFTY $55 MILLION BUDGET INCREASE. PAT CRONIN IS WITH THE AGENCIES ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BUDGET HEARING, HE TOLD LAWMAKERS THE DEPARTMENT HAS SEVEN DIVISIONS. HE SAID THEY NEED FUNDING FOR UPGRADES IN THE CRIME LAB AND MORE TROOPER SCHOOLS TO GET MORE BOOTS ON THE GROUND.>>WE ARE A BIG OPERATION. WE DO A LOT OF THINGS. THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY HAS A LOT OF TENTACLES THAT TOUCH EVERY PART OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. IS NOT JUST A HIGHWAY PATROL COMMITS A CRIME LABS, BUREAU OF NARCOTICS AND PUBLIC SAFETY PLANNING. IS A LAW ENFORCEMENTOFFICERS TRAINING ACADEMY. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE , WE HAVE SIGNIFICANT NEEDS. WE HAD TO SEND OVER 100 TROOPERS JUST A COUPLE WEEKS AGO FOR 14 DAY STAY AT THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND PARCHMENT. AND THAT COST US ABOUT HALF A MILLION JUST FOR THAT ALONE. WHEN THOSE HUNDRED TROOPERS GO, WE HAVE TO BACKFIELD WITH ANOTHER 100 TROOPERS WHICH PUTS IT IN OVERTIME SITUATION. IT’S A VERY COMPLICATED ISSUE WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT DPS AND THE DIFFERENT DIVISIONS AND IT. WE ARE CONCERNS WITH PUBLIC SAFETY.VERY ASPECT OF IT.>>CHAIRS THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. HE SAYS IT’S TOO SOON TO PRIORITIZE ALL THE REQUESTS. LAST YEAR THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY RECEIVED $102 MILLION.>>AT LEAST ON THE SENATE SIDE WE HAVE INCREASED THE STATE TEACHER PAY BY $1000, WHICH IS ABOUT A $52 MILLION INCREASE TO THE BUDGET. AND THAT’S A RECURRING EXPENSE. IS NOT JUST THIS YEAR, IT WILL BE EVERY YEAR THEREAFTER. THAT IS CERTAINLY A BIG PORTION OF THE BUDGET, AND INCREASED PORTION. WERE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT THINGS LIKE DPS AND CORRECTIONS. STILL WAITING ON SOME OF THE INFORMATION IN CORRECTIONS BECAUSE THAT IS A VERYFLUID SITUATION . HOPEFULLY AFTER WE HEAR FROM THEM, THOSE AREAS, I THINK YOU MAY HAVE BEEN IN THE MENTAL HEALTH EARRINGS IN MIDDLE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH EARRINGS. NOT TO MENTION IHL AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES. LOT OF PEOPLE WITH A LOT OF REQUESTS. I THINK OVER $1 BILLION WORTH OF ADDITIONAL REQUESTS ON TOP OF THE FUNDS ALLOCATED AND APPROPRIATED LAST YEAR. SO THERE IS A LOT TO LOOK AT. OBVIOUSLY WE HAVE TO PICK AND PRIORITIZE THE THINGS IMPORTANT. NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO GET AN INCREASED BUDGET, BUT WE’RE GOING TO SEE WHAT WE CAN DO TO MAKE IT THE BEST. IN THE IDEAL HERE IS TO GET THE SERVICES TO THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE.>>LET’S GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT WITH VIEWS FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. BRANDON JONES IS AN ATTORNEY AND FORMER DEMOCRATIC MEMBER OF THE HOUSE. AUSTIN BARBER IS A NATIONAL REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND FOUNDER OF THE CLEARWATER GROUP. AUSTIN, BRENDA, WELCOME. GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US. LET’S START WITH CORRECTIONS. ALSO, DO YOU THINK THAT LEGISLATORS ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK? IN PARTICULAR WITH RESPECT TO LOOKING AT WALNUT GROVE US REOPENING AT IT’S A POSSIBLE PLACE TO PUT SOME INMATES?>>GOVERNOR REEVES SAID THIS WEEK, I THINK I READ WALNUT GROVE IS JUST MORE AND MORE OF A REAL SERIOUS OPTION TO MOVE CERTAIN PRISONERS FROM UNIT 29. I ASSUME THERE ARE OTHER AREAS AND PARCHMENT THAT NEED WORK. JUST HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF DATE AND THEY NEED A BETTER ENVIRONMENT TO MOVE SOME OF THESE PRISONERS. AND THERE IS A PRISONER, IS NOT BEEN OCCUPIED, IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN USED IN THE PAST. IF THAT IS WHAT CORRECTIONS OFFICERS IN OUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS THINKS IS THE BEST OPTION FROM A CALL STANDPOINT AS WELL AS A STANDPOINT TO PLACE PRISONERS IN A SAFE AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT FOR THEM, BECAUSE AS IS IMPORTANT TOO, I THINK THAT IS A SMART MOVE.>>WE HAVE ALL HEARD ABOUT UNIT 29 AND PARCHMENT. AND IT HAS BEEN TERRIBLE. THEY HAVE TO SHUT IT DOWN. THERE’S REALLY NO REHABILITATING THAT UNIT. IN UNIT 30 IS PRETTY CLOSE BEHIND. SO THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER ANSWER THAN THAT. WALNUT GROVE FROM A FACILITIES STANDPOINT IS IN MUCH BETTER SHAPE. AS WE HEARD FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCING ADMINISTRATION, THE STATE ONLY HAS TO WORK THROUGH SOME DEBT ISSUES AND MISSISSIPPI IS A FULL OWNER OF IT.I’M SURE THERE WILL BE QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW IT’S OVERSEEN AND HOW SO THAT WORKS OUT, BUT IN TERMS OF IT BEING A FACILITY THAT IS A BETTER OPTION THAN PARCHMENT, UNIT 29 AND 30, I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANY QUESTION. BUT WE ALSO HEARD THIS WEEK FROM CLIFF JOHNSON FROM THE MACARTHUR JUSTICE CENTER THAT IF WE ARE LOOKING AT THIS SOLELY FROM A BRICKS AND MORTAR STANDPOINT, WE ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET WHERE WE HAVE TO GO. I THINK IS RIGHT ABOUT THAT. IF WE DON’T DO SOMETHING ABOUT OUR OVER INCARCERATION PROBLEM, MISSISSIPPI IS GOING TO HAVE SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES THAT CONTINUE TO GROW. AS WE ARE SEEING IN ALABAMA. HE URGED LAWMAKERS TO CONSIDER SENATE BILL 21, WHICH IS A BILL THAT WOULD RESTORE PAROLE ELIGIBILITY TO FOLKS WHO WOULD’VE HAD IT PRIOR TO THE CHANGES THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE 90S. AND ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT OUR HABITUAL STATUTES. WE ARE LOCKING THE DOOR AND THROWING AWAY THE KEY ALL TOO OFTEN. TO CREATE SOME INCENTIVE FOR PRISONERS TO REHABILITATE THEMSELVES AND TO LOOK AT THE LIFE AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES AS WE HEARD OTHERS TALK ABOUT EARLIER IN THE PROGRAM, THATHAS TO BE PART OF THE EQUATION AS WELL .>>CERTAINLY IF YOU ARE GOING BACK TO LAST YEAR, LEADERSHIP UNDER THE REPUBLICAN LEADERS IT IS A BIPARTISAN ISSUE. NOT TO THINK ABOUT BRICKS AND MORTAR. THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT HOW DO WE ENSURE WE HAVE LESS PEOPLE IN JAIL AND THAT MOST IMPORTANTLY WE HAVE A PLACE WE CAN PUT PEOPLE WHO ARE VIOLENT CRIMINALS. AND FOR THE ONES READY TO REENTER SOCIETY, LET’S MAKE SURE WE ARE ABLE TO REENTER SOCIETY AS A SUCCESSFULLY AS I POSSIBLY CAN.>>IT’S NOT A BAD THING WE ARE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION IN SUCH A BROAD RANGING WAY. YOU FOLKS FROM THEDEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, YOU FOLKS IN THE LEGISLATOR BUT YOU HAVE COMMUNITYPARTNERS AND PEOPLE LIKE FAMILY MEMBERS AND PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED . IS A GOOD CONVERSATION TO HAVE .>>Wilson Stribling: WAS UP WITH THE SENATE BILL REGARDING TENNIS FUNDS IN THIS BILL WOULD MAKE THE ÃWOULD GIVE THE STATE AUDITOR THE AUTHORITY TO LOOK AT THE TAX RETURNS OF SOMEONE RECEIVING TENTATIVE FUNDS. I TAKE IT YOU WERE NOT IN FAVOR OF THIS?>>IT FEELS LIKE A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM. IT WAS ALMOST LIKE THE COMMITTEE SAID WE HEARD TANNISH WAS IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK, TO BE ANYTHING THAT GOES TO THAT. THIS IS NOT RESPONSIVE AT ALL. WE HAVE HEARD OF BENEFITS IN THE NEWS LATELY, WHICH HAD TO DO WITH CONTRACTORS THAT WERE ALLEGEDLY EMBEZZLING FUNDS. JUST THE TIMING OF THIS SEEMS VERY ODD. IS AN ODD CHOREOGRAPHY THAT THE WEEK AFTER THAT YOU RULE OUT A BILL THAT SAYS ALL TAX RETURNS CAN BE EXAMINED IN THIS PROCESS. NOT ONLY IS THAT KIND AS HE HEARD SENATOR HORN SAY, IT SEEMSTO TARGET THE MOST WORLD WILL BE PEOPLE THAT APPLY FOR THESE FUNDS, AND IT ALSO ADDS ANOTHER LAYER OF BUREAUCRACY TO THE PROCESS. WE ALREADY KNOW MISSISSIPPI REJECTS PEOPLE WHO SEEK THESE FUNDS AT A HIGHER RATE THAN ALMOST ANY STATE. NOW WE ARE ADDING ANOTHER PIECE TO THAT PUZZLE .>>I THINK VERY SIMPLY IT’S THIS. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUT THE $5 BILLION A YEAR INTO MEDICAID MISSISSIPPI. THIS IS A DIRECTIVE FROM OMB AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO OUR STATE AUDITOR IN OUR STATE LEGISLATOR AND LEADERS SAY LISTEN, WE WANT TO SAMPLE A SMALL PERCENTAGE. I THINK IT’S FIVE PERCENT IS WHAT I WAS TOLD, OF RECIPIENTS. WHERE THEY ARE INDIVIDUALS OR PROVIDERS. AND CERTAINLY PROVIDERS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY HAVE A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF THAT.IKE EVERYTHING ONE OF THEM. WE WANT TO LOOK AT THE STATE TAX RETURNS. I’M NOT AN EXPERT ON THIS, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL GETTING ANY OF THE OTHER DOZENS OF PROGRAMS THAT THEY HAVE AND MEDICAID ARE GOING TO HAVE TO GO FIGURE OUT WHERE DO I GET MY TAX RETURN AND GIVE IT TO MEDICAID. THIS IS ALL GOING TO BE DONE BEHINDTHE SCENES. AND IF THERE IS AN ISSUE ÃWE ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE PROGRAM FOR BEING I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT . I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND. LET’S MAKE SURE WE LOOK AT THE PROVIDERS AS WELL READ BUT LOOK AT INDIVIDUALS, THEY NEED TO BE ELIGIBLE. I GET THAT, I UNDERSTAND THAT, LET’S CUT OUT FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE WHICH HAS BEEN A MANTRA FROM REPUBLICANS FOR GENERATIONS.>>Wilson Stribling: THERE ARE SOME RUMBLINGS IN THE CAPITAL OF MAKING CHANGES WITH THE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING. IT IS GOT MORE INTEREST NOW BECAUSE IHL IS CURRENTLY LAUNCHED A SEARCH COMMITTEE TO FIND A NEW PRESIDENT FOR JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY. WE RECENTLY HAD THE SELECTION OF GLEN VOICE AT OLE MISS. AUSTIN, WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT EFFORTS TO CHANGE THE WAY THAT PROCESS IS DONE AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM?>>THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT ALUMNI LEADERS, COMMUNITY LEADERS, OLE MISS MISSISSIPPI STATE, JACKSON STATE, YOU NAME IT. SOUTHERN MISS. THEY WOULD HAVE MORE INFLUENCE IN THE PROCESS. THEY WANT TO BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS. THERE ARE SOME THAT HAVE BEEN FRUSTRATED BY SEVERAL OF THE LAST TIRES. I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE THERE ARE GREAT PEOPLE, THEY CARE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITIES THEY GRADUATED FROM. AND THE OTHER UNIVERSITIES IN OUR STATE. THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT THIS IS SENTIMENT FROM ALUMNI FROM AROUND THE STATE. WHO SAID MAYBE WE SHOULD GO TO GET RID OF IHL. THERE’S A LOT OF STUFF BE IN FRONT UP AGAINST THE WALL. WE WANT TO HAVE OUR UNIVERSITY, WHATEVER UNIVERSITY TO REPRESENT, HAVE MORE INFLUENCE IN THIS PROCESS AND WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE MORE RECOMMENDATIONS AND INFLUENCE OF WHO OUR NEXT LEADER OF OUR UNIVERSITY SHOULD BE.>>I DON’T KNOW OF ANYBODY OVER THERE THAT IS CLAMORING FOR THE IHL OR COMING TO THE DEFENSE. I DON’T SEE IHL T-SHIRTS GOING AROUND. I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE CURIOUS ABOUT THIS, BUT I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE SOME OTHER SITE IS HELPFUL. BEFORE I PRATTLE ON ABOUT THIS BECAUSE WE WILL HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT IT, I THINK YOU GOT A SPECIAL VIEWER YOU WANT US TO GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO?>>I PER STEP THAT. WANT TO SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SAINT OLSON, HE IS 100 YEARS OLD. YET A RECENT BIRTHDAY. THIS IS A MAN FROM YAZOO CITY, A GREAT AMERICAN, A MAN WHO SERVED HIS COUNTRY AND SOMEONE WHO’S A BIG INFLUENCE TO ME AS I WAS A LITTLE BOY GROWING UP IN YAZOO CITY. AND HE’S AN ADVENT VIEWER. SAM, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND GREAT pTO KNOW YOU.>>Wilson Stribling: WE ENJOY VIEWERS AT ANY AGE, BUT AT 100 TO BE CHOOSING US, THAT’S TERRIFIC. SO YOU DON’T THINK WE SHOULD GET RID OF IHL?>>I DON’T THINK BUT ÃI DON’T THINK WE CAN AFFORD TO DO AWAY WITH ANY OVERSIGHT. I MEAN, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A LOT OF FUNDS, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT A LOT OF DECISIONS. I THINK THERE HAS TO BE SOME INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE. I DO THINK THIS WOULD BE AN ONGOING CONVERSATION ESPECIALLY AS MORE INSTITUTIONS ARE ADDED TO THE LIST.>>Wilson Stribling: IT SEEMS A LOT OF THE STUDENTS AND STAKEHOLDERS JUST WILL HAVE MORE SAY IN THE PROCESS IN PARTICULAR OTHER FINDING THEIR PRESIDENTS. WE WILL SEE HOW THAT DEBATE SHAKES OUT IN THE COMING WEEKS AND MONTHS. THANK YOU BOTH, GERMAN, FOR JOINING US AND WE THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AS WELL.E ARE OUT OF TIME TO BE DON’T FORGET YOU CAN WATCH THIS PROGRAM [email protected]/ISSUE AND FOR DAY-TO-DAY COVERAGE FOLLOW WMPN NEWS ON FACEBOOK AND LISTEN TO MORNING EDITION ON MPB THINK RADIO WEEKDAYS AT 8:30 P.M. WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE WITH US TONIGHT, WE HOPE YOU HAVE A GOOD ONE.

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