"Last week, after just two hours of debate, the Mississippi House passed a bill that would phase out the state’s personal income tax. If passed, the bill could gradually eliminate nearly a third of state revenues. Despite the hollow promises of tax-cut advocates, eliminating the income tax would do nothing to improve employment or economic opportunity in the state."
"According to state Department of Revenue figures, 37 percent of taxpayers made less than $30,000 in 2012, paying 6.6 percent of Mississippi's personal income taxes. About 3 percent of Mississippi households made more than $200,000 a year, while paying 31 percent of state income taxes. But low-income households pay a much larger share of income in overall taxes in Mississippi. The lowest 20 percent of households, which made less than $15,000 a year in 2012, paid 10.4 percent of income, according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. The top 1 percent, which made more than $306,000 a year, paid 5.3 percent of income."
"So how did the 24/7 Wall St. writers assess the Magnolia State? 'Nearly one in four Mississippi residents lived in poverty last year, by far the highest rate in the nation. More than 35 percent of people without a high school diploma in the state lived in poverty, also the highest rate compared to all other states.'"
"Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that runs a network of food banks that help feed more than 37 million people each year, estimates 7 million of that number are elderly residents. Thirty-three percent of Feeding America's client households have at least one member who is age 60 or over, and an estimated 76 percent — or 3.9 million households — are food insecure. Although exact statistics for elderly residents in Mississippi have not been released, the problem is very real in the Magnolia State."
"Groups supporting low-income Mississippi residents said Tuesday that elected officials are ignoring 300,000 people and refusing billions of federal dollars by choosing not to expand Medicaid in one of the poorest states in the nation. If the state were to extend Medicaid, as allowed under the health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law, many low-wage workers could receive coverage that would enable them to afford doctors' visits, prescriptions and medical supplies, said Roy Mitchell of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program."
“Mississippi youth suffer worse odds than those anywhere else in the nation, ranking dead last once again in the annual Kids Count report measuring the well-being of children and families.”
“It seems our legislative GOPers down here have joined the ‘punish the poor’ Republican brigade in Congress, and even added another wrinkle to punish low-income folks.”
“After more than four hours of debate Wednesday, the House — mostly along party lines — passed a bill requiring drug testing for some people applying for welfare.”
“The Mississippi House is expected to vote Wednesday on a welfare drug testing bill that Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is pushing, weeks after a judge struck down a similar law in Florida.”
“Mississippi lawmakers appear unlikely to do an about-face and vote to expand Medicaid this year.”
“Mississippi is losing billions of dollars in potential economic activity because state leaders, so far, have chosen not to extend Medicaid to hundreds of thousands more people, a nonprofit group said a report Thursday.”
“When Mississippians think of the homeless, we mostly think of out-of-state people in big cities who are either severely mentally ill, chronic substance abusers, or those who are chronically homeless. We also comfort ourselves in the notion that homelessness is far less pronounced in the rural South because we ‘take care of our own.’”
“The percentage of families living below the poverty line in South Mississippi is on the rise, according to the latest numbers released from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.”
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has upheld its ruling that the Mississippi did too little to recruit low-income people for Hurricane Katrina recovery work at the Port of Gulfport.”
“A new study shows 137,800 low-income Mississippians fall into a health insurance ‘coverage gap.’"
“ A new study shows 137,800 low-income Mississippians fall into a health insurance ‘coverage gap.’"
“Thursday's stand down at the Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus was more than just a five-hour event. It was a function designed to bring attention to the year-round plight of homeless veterans.”
“The official federal poverty level is $19,530 for a household of three, so Mary is not eligible for Medicaid herself, although her children would be eligible for the federal-state Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIPS). Her employer doesn't offer or participate in a group plan for employees, so Mary has no health insurance. There are legions of ‘Marys’ in Mississippi.”
“A state housing official says Mississippi is among a very few states where requests for affordable housing tax credits outstrip the available money.”
“And rather than asking how federal programs are working for Mississippians, Republican Wicker proceeds to pontificate that Medicaid, a real biggie in this economically struggling state, is a failure. Medicaid, he said, ‘has been a very unsuccessful program in Mississippi.’ Say what? Try telling that to the 600,000 needy Mississippians who depend on Medicaid as their sole health care insurance.”
“One of the top Department of Veterans Affairs officials visited Biloxi on Wednesday and talked about efforts to improve services to veterans, particularly those who are homeless.”
“Help for homeless veterans in Hancock and Harrison counties has come in the form of a $373,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA said the money will help about 75 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.”
“Was Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves a hero for saving the state's $890 million Medicaid program in the madcap Friday, June 28, windup of the special legislative session? Or a dictator for bending the constitutional barrier against tacking a revenue provision onto a general bill? In any case, Reeves single-handedly bypassed Gov. Phil Bryant and restored the primary revenue stream--the hospital bed tax--to the Medicaid program after Bryant failed to add the Medicaid revenue machinery to his special session call.”
“In colleges, about 510 fewer low-income students in Mississippi would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 150 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college. Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for about 1,600 children in Mississippi, reducing access to critical early education, the report said.”
“Some angry child-care providers blasted the state Department of Human Services Friday during a public hearing on its proposal to pay a Xerox Corp. subsidiary up to $12.9 million to handle a finger-scanning system to police participants in the low income federal voucher program.”
“But we can't let it end there. We can't be satisfied with celebrating our veterans for a day, for a weekend. They answered the call when we needed them. Now many veterans need us. There are tens of thousands of homeless veterans in the United States, far too many of them right here in South Mississippi.”
“Mississippi has the worst poverty rate in the nation, according to a new study by MBJ affiliate On Numbers More than one-sixth, or 17.4 percent, of families in the Magnolia State live in poverty. On an individual basis, the percentage is even higher: 22.6 percent of Mississippi citizens are classified as poor.”
“The church works closely with the Seashore Mission in Biloxi to provide for those less fortunate. Once each month, the church provides meals by taking the food to the mission where those in need can get the nutrition they need. When a hurricane threatens, the church picks up the homeless and brings them to the church to weather the storm in safety.”
“George Elementary in Jackson is one of the state's top achieving schools despite also having a poverty rate of 95 percent. Now, the school is being awarded for that success. The Mississippi Center for Public Policy announced today its list of Exceed Schools, a ranking of the state's 20 highest scoring schools with poverty rates higher than 90 percent.”
“A couple hundred veterans received winter supplies during the 2012 Homeless Veteran Stand Down on Wednesday at the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi. Area organizations gathered to give homeless veterans items such as bedding, clothing, toiletries and other goods necessary for hygiene, comfort and safety.”
“Such cuts will result in less money coming into Mississippi communities, particularly poorer, rural communities. Less money in circulation in local economies causes local businesses to struggle, bankruptcies to increase, and sparks lay-offs and other economic disruptions.”
“A district where large shares of students are poor or black has a strong probability of performing poorly in the ratings, according to a mathematical analysis by The Associated Press. The average district with an F rating in 2012 had a student body that was 93 percent black, with 91 percent from impoverished homes. Statewide, half of public school students are black and 62 percent are impoverished.”
“Although the majority of maternal deliveries in our state are currently covered by Medicaid, most low-income women and teens do not qualify for coverage unless they are already pregnant. And medical science is making it increasingly clear that the health of a woman before she gets pregnant dramatically affects the outcome of the pregnancy and the health of her baby.”
“The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday the local area will benefit from a $187,584 ‘homeless prevention grant’ which will serve about 50 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families, according to a news release.”
“The smoke detectors and alarms are installed at no cost to city residents. The primary recipients are to be senior citizens, low-income households, physically impaired and household with children 14 years of age and younger.”
"Here's an alarming statistic: There more than 400 homeless children in Jackson County schools. The non-profit Family Promise reported the staggering numbers to supervisors Monday, as members lobbied for money to help needy families. "
"In the coming years, state leaders will have a chance to expand the Medicaid program as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, about 14 million adults would receive coverage through a Medicaid expansion. The expansion is supposed to begin in 2014. For the first three years, the federal government will pay all of its costs. From 2020 on, it will pay 90 percent."
"The Open Doors Homeless Coalition hosted a case manager-training session Wednesday aimed at helping member agencies become more effective in helping people below the poverty line."
"'The state has the highest rate of poverty, the highest rate of children living in single parent households, the lowest average life expectancy, and the highest rate of births among teenagers.' Other states listed among the 'least' peaceful states in the country were South Carolina (9th), Arkansas (8th), Texas (7th), Missouri (6th), Arizona (5th), Florida (4th), Nevada (3rd), Tennessee (2nd) and Louisiana (1st)."
"The numbers show that as Mississippi continued and expedited the long and difficult transition from low-skill, low-wage jobs to high-skill, high-wage jobs during the two-term administration of Haley Barbour, the state's per-capita personal income actually increased."
"A team of University of Tennessee researchers released a study last week that provides recommendations for improving the economic development of impoverished Appalachian communities. Commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the study represents a common-sense approach to help struggling communities keep up in a rapidly changing world."
"So, clearly, given that the expense to the taxpaying public can be 2.5 times greater per person where poverty rules than where there's an economic pulse, there's an economic imperative (on top of the social imperative) to seek a turnaround for the region as aggressively as possible."
"Outside the schools, their community is one where child poverty topped 50 percent in 2000, according to census and state health data; that is four times the national rate for white children. Here, third-grade test scores are used to project future prison capacity when prison contractors lobby the state for funds."
"But it also serves to highlight complicated links between poverty, nutrition, obesity and overall well-being. Insecurity or hunger? 'Those public service announcements come back to haunt me,' said Mark Nord, the USDA sociologist in charge of food insecurity data."
"Yet a new report shows that funding across the country by states has declined over the past two years — to the tune of about $90 million — even though enrollment has increased. What’s more, a number of states don’t even fund early pre-K programs."
"The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group, rated Mississippi among the states with the highest state income taxes paid by people living below, at or marginally above the federal poverty level."
"The major Republican contenders in the Mississippi primary -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich -- want to turn over to the states federal programs such as food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid. That would transform the aid from open- ended entitlements into fixed annual grants while allowing states to impose new conditions upon recipients, ultimately reducing the number helped."
"Business leaders have repeatedly stated that in today’s economy jobs are available, but mostly for those adequately trained in the increasingly technical skills necessary to conduct the tasks required of the new work force. In many circles the bachelor’s degree is becoming the new minimum, and even the quality of those degrees is coming under scrutiny. In Mississippi, over 20 percent of the population, or approximately 600,000 citizens, live below the poverty line."
"In those six years, government payments as a component of income had risen to 26 percent of all household revenue in Tunica County. The average for all other counties in America at that time was 11.5 percent. The war on poverty was being waged full-scale in the Delta."
"The Foundation for Child Development’s new report on state-level differences in the Index of Child Well-Being – a broad quality-of-life indicator based on 25 indicators – shows enormous variation, as does another set of indicators known as Kids Count, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation."
"With an estimated count at 12,929, homeless children in Mississippi outnumber the populations of 9 out of 10 of the state's towns and cities.
Still, the number has dropped from a peak in 2008 of nearly 20,000."
"Adam said there usually aren’t very many people who use the shelter, but he likes to have one available. 'It’s terrible when you have homeless people who don’t have a place to stay,' he said. The three emergency managers on the Coast said they would like to see more churches used as shelters."
"Homeless men and women once again are spending chilly nights inside Sacramento area churches and other houses of worship this winter, but the project is threatened by a funding shortfall, officials said Tuesday."
"As written, the law is also a compliance nightmare. For example, pharmacists must check residency status with each transaction -- a time-waster that makes any complaint about federal regulations look silly. But by far the biggest problem is that in chasing immigrants -- illegal and otherwise -- from the work force, Alabama has put the hammer on businesses that rely on low-wage employees."
"The Open Doors Homeless Coalition of community organizations had spread out at tables to offer warm clothes, blankets, hygiene kits, haircuts, and even rabies shots for pets. Intake forms the homeless and needy filled out at the door indicated that at least 164 people took advantage of the services."
"'Yet, low-income, minority communities are underserved by traditional banks. And Mississippi is the most underbanked state in the country. 'The lack of a banking account is a contributor to poverty, and it's going to get worse if we don't address it.'"
"Discretionary income refers to the difference between a borrower's family income and 150 percent of the poverty level for that family size."
"At least 250 homeless veterans received warm clothing, medical care, showers, haircuts and help getting needed services at the Biloxi Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday."
"He was referring to a common argument that voter ID laws are designed to suppress voting, particularly in groups that tend to vote Democrat - young people, racial minorities and low-income voters. He continued, "This is most definitely politically charged.""
"'The grant could make a big difference in Mississippi, where about 33 percent of children live in poverty, Grace said. That's a higher percentage than any other state. 'This is about children, and that's very clear in this proposal,' said Grace, director of early childhood development for Children's Defense Fund."
"Increased unplanned pregnancies will lead to more people on welfare and receiving food stamps. Most of the children born to unwed and/or teenage mothers will need welfare. If you consider the loss of education, opportunity and job and income loss that sometimes goes along with an unplanned pregnancy, the cost to Mississippi taxpayers is even greater."
"A list of states and the federal enclave compiled by the Con Agra Foods Foundation and reprinted recently in The New York Times reveals that in the District 32.3 percent, or 36,870 boys and girls, face food deprivation. The District is followed closely by Oregon with 29.2 percent, or 252,510 children, and Arizona and Arkansas with 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively."
"But the problem is not evenly distributed. New Hampshire (11 percent), Minnesota (14 percent), and Massachusetts (13 percent) have the least child poverty, while Alabama (25 percent), Louisiana (24 percent), and Mississippi (31 percent) have the most."