On Friday, January 10, the Department of Finance and Administration reported a press release in which it stated that “December revenues were $33.8 million more than the budgeted estimates.” In other words, the state is running a budget surplus, largely due to the sales tax increase approved by the legislature in 2002.
Imagine my surprise the next day when the Commercial Appeal failed to even mention this good news. Of the state's three major newspapers, only the Nashville Tennessean bothered to let the state's taxpayers know that the state's budget crisis is essentially over. Instead, we have been treated to a long line of stories saying that retail sales are down (even though they are, in fact, higher than last year's) and that the state faces massive budget problems (mostly due to spending on the bloated TennCare program and court orders to equalize education funding in rural districts).
I guess printing good news would detract from your paper's mission to impose an income tax with no spending limits similar to California's (a state facing a $36 billion budget shortfall over the next 18 months). Your readers deserve an honest reporting of the facts, not suppression of information to further a political agenda.
For more details on this story, see Bill Hobbs' weblog. We'll see if they print my letter; I'm not holding my breath.
Hattiesburg American opinion editor Rich Campbell asks and answers that provocative question in a column in yesterday's paper, in response to the national Democrats' opposition to the Pickering nomination, supported by many Mississippi Democrats (seen at How Appealing).
It's a pretty good question, and one that reveals the friction in the median voter problem: Mississippi Democrats like Mike Moore, Ronnie Musgrove, and Ronnie Shows have very different interests in getting elected than many Democrats in other states, much as Republicans in New England aren't well-served by being associated in their voters' minds with the Christian Coalition wing of the party. In the long term, this may lead to either realignment or the development of regional or state parties; at some point, except in the Delta, no Democratic candidate will be able to appeal to a median voter simply due to the association with the national party — Gene Taylor could conceivably be the last white Democrat the state elects to Congress ever, and at the state level a similar phenomenon could easily emerge.
Today was pretty much a blah day; nothing much to comment on, really. I did go shopping at Wal-Mart (mostly diet soda, milk, and juice, along with the tax program and a couple of sweaters that were on sale; no SimCity 4 yet, natch). I thought about going to see Narc, for which the previews looked moderately interesting. Otherwise, I killed time by riling up some I-69 idiotarians at HoosierTalk, and watched the new Stargate SG-1 episode, “Unnatural Selection” (not really what I expected at all, but it was good nonetheless).
Tomorrow's project will be to try to get the business back on the rails again. I can hardly wait...