JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The Mississippi Legislature has started its 2018 session with plenty of issues to consider.
One of the first things to focus on is funding. By early April, legislators are supposed to agree on about a $6 billion budget that would start July 1.
Lawmakers could debate creation of a lottery. “I’m personally opposed to a lottery,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, “But I’ll tell you that I think if it got to the floor of the Mississippi senate I think it would likely pass.”
Rep. Alyce Clarke has supported a lottery bill for about 20 years, seeing it fail every year. WJTV asked if she’ll author another lottery bill in 2018, “Of course I’m doing another lottery bill this year. Why wouldn’t I do another lottery bill when all of my constituents are saying, everywhere I go, ‘Ms. Clarke, are you going to do another lottery bill? I certainly would appreciate it because I don’t like having to drive all the way over there to Louisiana to get my lottery ticket.'”
Lawmakers could try to rewrite a school funding formula but Lt. Gov. Reeves wouldn’t say if there’s a timeline on doing so, “Information is critically important before any member of the Mississippi Senate should be asked to vote on a funding formula and that’s something we’re going to work to ensure happens.”
“We need more pressure on the legislature to fund our public schools,” said Democratic Senator Hob Bryan. “But under this new proposal, whatever the legislature comes up with by definition is what the schools need.”
This is the second year of a four-year term. Republicans continue holding a supermajority in both the House and the Senate, after special elections to fill seats of legislators who left.
The GOP gained one Senate seat when Democrat Bill Stone of Holly Springs departed and a Republican, Neil Whaley of Potts Camp, was elected.
Joel Carter was sworn in to the Senate on Tuesday, the opening day of the three-month legislative session.
He succeeds Sean Tindell, another Gulfport Republican who was appointed to a nonpartisan judicial post.