CEO for the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Jon Pritchett, sat down with Y’all Politics to outline the direction they hope to see lawmakers go throughout the 2020 Legislative Session in regards to Mississippi policies.
“We’re interested in issues like economic freedom. Our view is that we have an over dependence on government and we do a lot of things from a regulatory standpoint that adversely effect the free market which we are supporters of,” said Pritchett.
For example, occupational licensing. MCPP has continued to fight to help individuals who are seeking work in an overly saturated regulatory system.
Pritchett said they will be working on ways to lessen the administrative burden like implementing a ‘sunset provision,’ or for every new regulation put in, taking one out. He said Governor Reeves has indicated that decreasing regulations will be one of his priorities, to which Pritchett said he feels confident in that. He said that could include things like Certificates of Need.
“We are excited that the Governor has indicated that he understands the regulatory burdens and also wants to focus on job creation and that it comes from creative destruction and competition opposed to ones where the government is trying to solve it for us,” said Pritchett. He hopes to see many issues tackled this session.
While he said he hasn’t had a chance to work with the new Lt. Governor’s staff he looks forward to the opportunity to do that. He said he is encouraged with what he has heard from Delbert Hosemann in regards to streamlining things and creating more transparency in the Capitol.
Pritchett said if more transparency does, in fact, get brought to the Capitol it could have a positive impact on reforming regulatory policy. When the public and media can be involved and understand what is happening without as much digging, he said it could have a solid impact on change.
He went on to say that the system is quite complicated, so the more that things can be simplified the better off everyone will be.
The Legislature has put an emphasis on workforce development since the 2019 campaign season. Pritchett said he’s not sure how those initiatives might impact the regulations on businesses just yet.
“Workforce development is a term that is being thrown around and used by virtually everyone in government right now. So, I think we have to determine exactly what it means before we know exactly what it is going to do,” said Pritchett.
He went on to say MCPP would be more in favor of legislation that has the education system prepare individuals for industry. He is hesitant to say that the government should be making the decision on training people for a particular industry. He said there is no way to know where the best industry jobs will be years from now.
Pritchett said they would rather it be up to individuals to decide what opportunities they want to pursue, and if government can assist, that is the goal.
“As long as it doesn’t mean using taxpayer money to try to predict the future and then give those companies who they think are going to be employers of the future our tax dollars, we’ll see,” said Pritchett.
MCPP has been working to make it evident to most Mississippians that regulatory burdens are heavy. Many are under the impression that because the state is primarily conservative there is more freedom. The reality is, he says, it is heavily reliant on government.
Pritchett said generally speaking in states where things are most healthy there are less administrative and regulatory burdens. He said the dialogue has significantly picked up on those topics.
With Mississippi having such a high poverty rate, Pritchett said that the natural tendency to fix a problem is to ask government to do something.
“We would rather back up a step and ask, ‘how do we produce more resources,'” said Pritchett. “We prefer for that to be driven by raising the economic growth and we know that you can’t really do that through the public sector.”
However, that doesn’t let government off the hook; MCPP just believes in more action by the private sector.
Pritchett said MCPP is also interested in seeing criminal justice reform continue, and given the current situation at Parchman there is an opportunity for that to happen. He said there is an urgent resource allocation problem they hope to see rectified.
He also plans to push for criminal asset forfeiture only. This would require that the state charge and convict you of a crime before they could take your property.
While many put an emphasis on early childhood development and K-12 schools, MCPP plans to work on higher education. They have an event coming up where they will release an audit of higher education. He said there are many opportunities for reform.
“That’s an important part of this whole trying to improve the economy is how well equipped are folks to contribute when they graduate from college,” said Pritchett.
From that he plans to see more conversation about free speech.