Proposals before the state legislature threaten the life and liberty of Jacksonians and all Mississippians

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Jackson resident Darlene Lomax is not one to sit around waiting for something to happen. The Jackson Advocate spotted her en route to city hall, sign in hand, calling for lawmakers to work together to improve the overall quality of life for its citizenry. (Advocate photo)

Many, if not most, Americans find themselves so busy living and working for a living they ignore or delay making decisions about or taking actions on things that will affect them sooner or later. It happens over and over again, year after year.

Last week, we witnessed a session wherein bills before the state legislature were discussed, read the account of the current effort to close three of the state’s public institutions, joined alumni of Jackson State University and Alcorn State University on critical issues before them, and followed accounts of legislation proposed to re-direct how much of Jackson is governed.

We could add additional issues encountered last week on just the local level. These too are enough to prove the point that all citizens need to “take time to make time.” If and when we fail to do so, we will lose out politically, economically, educationally, and in many other ways.


After hearing from Representative Chris Bell, who heads the Legislative Black Caucus, and Senator David Blount, the vice chair of the Democratic Caucus, we learned that while the House easily passed Medicaid Expansion, the Senate will now decide whether to take-up that bill or consider its own Medicaid Expansion bill, which some supporters feel is superior. Regardless of which bill the Senate passes, it’s likely Governor Tate Reeves will veto it. But the veto can be overridden. 

The issue is one of tremendous importance to the state’s lower income population, the state’s smaller hospitals, and the state’s economy. In order for this legislation to pass and be signed into law by the governor, every citizen must take action and pressure our elected officials. Yet, too many will leave it up to the legislature, including the far out-numbered Democratic members.


There are many conservative Republican legislators wanting to scrap the law undergirding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). They want to replace it with a system whereby families would be provided funds or tax credits to educate their children rather than there being a stable, well-funded public school system for all children. 

This threatened change could quickly undermine and destroy public education as we know it, returning the state to the situation that existed before Thomas Cardozo found a way to fund public schools back in the 1870s. 

Although MAEP has been fully-funded only twice in its nearly 30-year history, it would be disastrous to now get rid of it. Those who are most supportive of public schools are backing Senate Bill 2332 as the better way to go.

Like Medicaid Expansion, the funding of public education is important and begs for citizens’ continuous attention. Again, however, too many are often too busy to become involved.


Whether Senate Bill 2726 dies or not, the audacity of Senator John Polk to introduce such a bill to close three universities, deserves to be addressed. 

Some have proposed protesting and boycotting the products produced by his company in Magee, MS. 

The college closures demanded in this bill would hurt most low-income families. It would also reduce the number of essential college-educated residents in the state and significantly damage the state’s economy. It is a dangerous proposal and predicted to die in committee, a fate preferred by many.

Under this same category, the federal government recently revealed Alcorn State has been robbed of some $257.8 million in agricultural funds by Mississippi State during the past 30 years. In the case of the agricultural funds, the facts are clear and the issue was raised as a complaint during the Ayers litigation. As one astute observer noted, a part of Senator Polk’s motivation may be that by closing Alcorn State, the $257.8 million debt would become a mute issue.

Furthermore, the office of Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) has been far less than above board in the selection of presidents for Alcorn State and Jackson State. Many observers are beginning to accept the fact that there is remote control of the universities by IHL, and that it will continue as long as strong voices are not raised and strong actions are not taken. 

Still missing are strong voices and actions coming from alumni and supporters of Alcorn State and Jackson State. Their voice and actions are needed now, otherwise it will be too late,. 

As in the other issues mentioned above, university leadership needs the attention of all who are and will be affected. Being too busy living and working for a living are not acceptable excuses for inaction on such crucially important matters.


Last year, we saw the state legislature take joint control of police enforcement and the administration of justice in a large part of the city. This situation likely will continue and spread to other city functions. 

The current iteration of the state legislature has reached out to seize control of the city’s water and sewage systems, apparently with the blessing of the so-called third-party administrator, Ted Henifin. This does not bode well for the city, especially given the fact that like many municipalities Jackson depends upon those systems for a substantial portion of its revenue. Furthermore, in the current political climate, the state could end up controlling all of Jackson’s infrastructure. 

In short, there is no end in sight as to how far the white, Republican-dominated state legislature will go to attain total control of the mostly Black, Democratic city of Jackson. This presents another set of issues that also occupy the minds of Jackson residents.

 Aside from issues with state government, Jackson continues to suffer from blight and flight. White and middle-class flight deprive the city of much needed revenue needed for city services and for maintenance of its buildings and infrastructure. As a result, many properties, businesses, apartments, and single-family dwelling units fall into disrepair, abandoned, or destroyed by fire and vandals. These obviously weigh heavily not just on city officials, but on the minds of Jacksonians as well. 


In the face of this, citizens would do well to “take time to make time” to address these pressing issues. For sure, it is easy to realize the difficulty in which many find themselves considering that all of these issues arose during this past week. The weight of such issues are enormous.

Yet, this is the price of democracy. It is the price of liberty, civil rights, and human rights. Otherwise, people can and will be herded through life by would-be and actual dictators.

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Proposals before the state legislature threaten the life and liberty of Jacksonians and all Mississippians

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
March 11, 2024