The Auditor discussed topics his office is working on, highlighting four of the biggest challenges he believes Mississippi faces.

On Monday, State Auditor of Mississippi Shad White spoke at the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum at the Capitol Club in Jackson, Mississippi.

Following the luncheon, the State Auditor of Mississippi discussed the four biggest challenges he believes Mississippi faces.

“One is crime, obviously we have a big issue here in Jackson, but I think the issue goes beyond the borders of the Jackson-metro area,” Auditor White explained. “Two is, I think, workforce. We need to find ways to get more people who can work off the sidelines and into work.” 

The State Auditor stated that the third and fourth issues would be keeping “our home grown talent here” and preventing fraud, transparency and government.

“Making sure people know that the money they are spending on government programs is going where it needs to go,” White said regarding the fourth issue.

In May, the State Auditor of Mississippi tied his office’s “brain drain” report with the crime in the capital city of Jackson following the deadly shooting at the Mississippi Mudbug festival.

READ MORE: STATE AUDITOR WARNS CRIME IN JACKSON WILL HAVE LONG-TERM IMPACTS ON ENTIRE STATE

White said Mississippi is in danger of losing its biggest talent magnet.

“Based on our recent brain drain report, 30% of graduates who stay in Mississippi go to work in Hinds County. It’s a huge talent magnet,” Auditor White told Y’all Politics. “We have seen several shootings over the last two weeks, and Jackson is the per capita homicide capital of the United States based on the most recent data. We are at risk of losing our best talent magnet due to crime.”

The State Auditor noted that the CDC says Mississippi has the highest number of per capita deaths due to homicide in the country.

“This is not just a Jackson Metro problem, but a Mississippi problem. We must solve this issue, and we must solve fast,” White continued.

“Failure to maintain and replenish our state’s most highly educated population could be disastrous for the economic future of Mississippi,” the Office of the State Auditor’s (OSA) “brain drain” report said.

In July, Auditor White said that aside from inflation, there are two challenges he hears about the most across Mississippi: crime and the lack of good workers and coworkers in the economy.

“Data suggest Mississippians are right to be concerned about these things. When it comes to the labor force, our state has a smaller percentage of adults who are working or looking for work than every state except West Virginia,” White stated. “That number, called the labor force participation rate, hovers around 55% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We need more of our adults in the work force, pulling alongside the people who already bust their tails for a living.”

“Mississippians’ concerns about crime are well-founded, too. The CDC says Mississippi has the highest number of per capita deaths due to homicide of any state,” White continued. “Our capital, Jackson, had the highest number of per capita homicides of any major city in the United States last year. Someone argued to me not long ago that our per capita crime numbers were high simply because we had a low population. Not quite. Other states like West Virginia and Iowa have small populations but have better per capita crime numbers.”

The State Auditor said that these two issues cost taxpayers a lot of money.

“That’s my concern as State Auditor. Fewer adults in the labor force mean our businesses will struggle. We will have less economic activity and less tax revenue to fund roads, schools, and police as a result,” White explained. “Crimes cost us, too. My office estimates each new homicide costs taxpayers between $900k and $1.2 million. Those costs come from the expense of investigating and cleaning the crime scene, treating the victim if they need care before they pass away, prosecuting the defendant, and then imprisoning the guilty.”

White said that another thing these two issues have in common is that they have fundamental causes rooted in the dissolution of families and the lack of fathers in the home.

READ MORE: STATE AUDITOR REPORT SHOWS ABSENT FATHERS COST TAXPAYERS MILLIONS

“Fatherlessness poses threats to both the economic and social wellbeing of Mississippi communities. Data suggest even a small decrease in the number of fatherless homes might save taxpayers money,” the report said. “This report estimates that, through increased incarceration rates, increased education costs, and other drivers of taxpayer spending, Mississippi taxpayers will see an additional $700 million in current and future spending obligations each year due to fatherlessness.”

“As State Auditor, one of my jobs is to tell you how much our most pressing problems cost taxpayers. One of our gravest challenges: children growing up without engaged fathers in the home,” State Auditor White said.