Opinion – 4/3/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Senator Nolan Mettetal

 From the 04/03/07 issue of The Panolian        

Final week of 2007 session consumed by appropriation of bills

 Much of the final week of the 2007 legislative session was consumed by consideration of appropriation and revenue bills. Many of you know by now the love that Kay and I share with the clients at our local Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) or group homes. In fact, we visit these residences often (especially the Nolan Mettetal Meadowview Group Homes) and when we leave we are always thanking God for giving us two healthy children. Anyway, I introduced and worked hard for a proposal for $700,000 that passed the legislature and is now being considered by Governor Barbour for the final home on our very beautiful and meaningful campus at Senatobia. My proposal, after passage of the Senate and House was combined into a larger revenue bill. I also introduced a proposal for another set of group homes in Batesville. Unfortunately however it did not survive the process.

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Another revenue proposal that I always work very hard on passed the Senate and House for $20 million for the very popular Local Bridge Replacement Program. Funds from this program have replaced many unsafe bridges in Panola and Tate Counties.

Yet another revenue bill passed the Senate and House and was sent to Governor Barbour for his consideration that provided $2.8 million to Northwest Community College for capital improvements. Northwest is so many things to so many of us and we are so proud of the wonderful school and its’ faculty and administration.

Our local Boys & Girls Clubs do such a fantastic job with so many at risk children. These clubs will receive $5.5 million from the Mississippi Department of Human Services and it appears $1 million from possible settlement funds from pending state litigation. Of course this Senate and House appropriation must be approved by the Governor to complete the process.

We also passed the conference report (the Senate and House compromise) on the K-12 Education funding package. This final action on the education budget contained an increase from fiscal year 2007 of $213.8 million which represented a 9.3% increase. Of course the $2.503 billion is by far the largest general fund appropriation and is the largest education budget ever. In fact, this budget has continued to increase every single year for as long as I can remember during my service to you representing your Mississippi State Senate District 10 even through the multiple years of a flat economy. It is very unfortunate that those desiring some type of personal gain have reported to you falsely otherwise. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) is fully funded in this appropriation. A 3% teacher pay increase also passed. Not only have I always supported MAEP, but I was personally a vital force in its creation. It is a wonderful funding formula and is so improved over the old formula. I stood up for MAEP when others challenged it in the legislature.

Dr. Ty Hubbard appeared before a Senate Committee for confirmation of his appointment by Governor Haley Barbour to the Mississippi Optometry Board. He has represented his profession admirably and was confirmed by the full Senate later in the week. We congratulate him for his success. We also enjoyed seeing Billy Williams of Batesville at the Capitol representing the rural water associations.

Thank you each and everyone for sharing your marvelous acts of kindness over the past three legislative sessions. Thank you for your input and advice and for your trust in our leadership. The session is over and we look forward to seeing you soon. Please watch for my upcoming assessment and grade for the 2007 legislative session.

We thank this paper for their support and their informing you. You can reach me at 601-359-2220 during the session or at home 662-487-1512.

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