Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Dispatch, Columbus, Mississippi on upcoming elections:
Next Tuesday, voters will go to the polls to determine a handful of local offices, as well as decide the outcome of statewide races, including governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. In addition, voters will consider changing the Mississippi constitution, a measure that would change the way public education is funded.
It is often said that in our nation, we get the kind of government we demand. (Another version of that axiom says we get the government we deserve.) The voting booth is where that happens.
Next Tuesday, we urge residents not simply to vote, but to enter the voting booth well-informed.
Too often, we fear, many decisions voters make are based on extremely limited information. Who hasn't entered a voting booth and drawn a blank on a race, knowing nothing about a candidate aside from party affiliation? It is something that happens to all voters, we suspect.
Let's face it: There's not a lot of information available on, say, a constable's race.
What we fear, however, is that for many voters, those "who are these people?" encounters on the ballot are more rule than exception.
We urge voters to familiarize themselves with the races, relying not on campaign material -- which often tends to be dominated by vague, misleading or, even irrelevant information -- but from as many sources as you can find.
We urge you to follow our coverage of the key campaigns and issues. Between now and Tuesday, The Dispatch will be taking a closer look at some key campaign issues, including the District Attorney's race, Initiative 42 and the Lowndes County sheriff's race. On our website is a voter's guide for Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties published back in July.
These are no abstract issues; the outcome of each of these races may prove to have a tangible effect on our lives and community.
As we know, access to information has never been more readily available than it is today.
Do your research. Read. Listen. Talk to co-workers, neighbors. What do they know of the candidates? What do they know about their track records, their qualifications?
Finally, we encourage you to give careful thought to this question: Are you pleased with the performance of the incumbent? Would the challenger do better? What do I believe? What things are important to me?
We encourage you not to give away your vote to a party or another person's opinion. If the only reason you are voting for Candidate Jones is because Uncle Fred is voting for Candidate Jones, that's a poor choice, not because Candidate Jones isn't capable, but because you have given away your voice. Uncle Fred has his vote. You should have your vote, too, and it should be based on careful consideration.
Voting is a right, we often hear. But it is also an obligation. That obligation is not confined simply to the act of going to cast a ballot, but to have informed ourselves on the races so that we can make the best choices.
We get the government we demand, it is true.
Good choices based on good information most often produce good results.
We have seven days to study.
The test is next Tuesday.
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi on Initiative 42:
Few responsibilities are as important for our state government as providing a strong system of public education for our children. We know that unless we have a well-educated populace we will suffer from the plagues of unemployment, high crime rates, widespread poverty and a government-dependent society. There is no debate that our leaders — both Democrats and Republicans — have failed consistently at providing the level of education funding prescribed by state law. For these reasons, voters now face the question over passage of Initiative 42.
Initiative 42 is clearly a divisive proposal, which may seem odd at first blush since the stated goal of those who created it is to achieve full funding of public education. But the controversy comes from two main points.
1. The language of the initiative is broader than some expected. It has been fairly criticized as possibly allowing for judicial oversight over more than just funding. It has been unfairly criticized, however, for taking the authority of education funding from the Legislature.
2. There are many in the Legislature — Republicans now but Democrats in the past — who simply do not support public education to the extent they say in public. Actions, after all, speak louder than words. When it comes to fully funding public education versus appropriating moneys to other projects that would be more financially beneficial to their political supporters, most often the Legislature has chosen the latter. While they have largely ignored state law saying they should fully fund public education, they cannot ignore a constitutional amendment requiring such — and they know it.
We have been dismayed at the level of rancor the political rhetoric has reached during this debate. Both sides have acted foolishly, certainly not setting an example for the students at the heart of this debate. Both sides have made outlandish claims. Both sides have used race to further their cause. Both sides have treated each other with complete disdain and a lack of professional respect that we should demand from leaders. Both sides should be ashamed of many of their actions related to this fight.
But Initiative 42 is not about these people. Initiative 42 is about public education in Mississippi. Voters have a difficult choice to make on Nov. 3, and this decision will have long-lasting impact on our state.
After all the arguments have been made, one fact seems to stick out more than anything.
The Mississippi Legislature, whether controlled by Republicans or by Democrats, has consistently underfunded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. In only two years since MAEP was passed have schools received what the Legislature's own formula says they need to be adequate. Not great. Just adequate.
The reason legislators — both Democrats and Republicans — have felt confident in ignoring both of their own public education funding laws is because they know the Mississippi Constitution gives them complete control over public education, ensuring citizens cannot hold the Legislature, as a body, accountable for shirking its duties when it comes to education.
In the case of public education, the legislative branch has gone unchecked since 1960. This is despite passage of MAEP and the 2006 change that required it to fund its own formula.
It is time for lawmakers to do what state laws say they should do. If they don't, then they should answer to the people through a constitutionally prescribed judicial system. That is what Initiative 42 will allow — judicial oversight.
At the end of the day, we have faith in our judicial system — particularly in our state Supreme Court — to listen to reason and take into consideration what is adequate and efficient in light of economic realities.
Unfortunately, we — like many other Mississippians — have lost faith in the Legislature to provide adequate and efficient funding for our public schools. For too many years the Legislature — whether under the leadership of Democrats or Republicans — has shirked its responsibility to our schools, to our teachers and, most importantly, to our children.
For these reasons, we are endorsing the passage of Initiative 42.
The Neshoba Democrat on gubernatorial race:
Mississippians four years ago elected Phil Bryant Governor and Tate Reeves Lieutenant Governor as Republicans took control of the Legislature ushering in a new era of more efficient and transparent government.
Under the leadership of Bryant, Reeves and Republican Philip Gunn in the House, the Legislature passed a substantial educational reform package, cut taxes, made smart changes to the criminal justice system and filled the state's rainy day fund.
The Legislature under Republican control has over the last four years increased K-12 spending by historic levels.
The state's unemployment rate is decreasing. Mississippi appears to be heading in the right direction as the national economy sputters.
And we're confident liberal tax-and-spend notions and grow-the-government policies seen in Washington are not on the drawing board here.
Bryant's Democratic opponent, Robert Gray, however, told the New York Times, "I'm basically going to do the opposite of what he's doing." We believe him. And while we haven't always agreed with everything Gov. Bryant has done, we believe going in the opposite direction economically would be a disaster for Mississippi.
In a second term, we hope to see a Gov. Bryant who doesn't always have his finger in the wind. The state faces some significant issues like the flag that will require strong leadership.
As Lieutenant Governor, Bryant ushered in a new era of transparency in state government. He helped pass the first ethics reform legislation in Mississippi in 25 years. And he maintained a commitment to honest budgeting. He has argued that the people - not government - know best how to spend their own money.
Gov. Bryant has been particularly supportive of Weyerhaeuser's $57 million modernization that will help keep jobs in Neshoba County and lay the groundwork for future expansion.