Lawmakers must realize MHP is facing a dire situation when it comes to staffing. And this isn’t an issue that can be blamed on too much administrative cost, inefficient management or some other excuse that provides political cover to kick the can down the road. No government agency or body is perfectly run or without issues — including (and some might argue especially) — the Legislature. But in the case of MHP, the numbers are stark and paint a clear picture.
Nobody should expect Mississippi to be able to pay as much as Texas or Florida pays, but lawmakers must accept that $18,000 is too low for a starting salary today, and working for 16 years before one can earn $50,000 for a job that requires ongoing training and that comes with life-threatening duties every day is far too long.
Yes, it will require money to fix this problem. Many of our problems require money, whether lawmakers or others are willing to publicly admit to as much. But, thankfully, lawmakers can invest in troopers with the assuredness it is a wise investment. It’s the missing piece to a puzzle that already includes strong community support, great interest in joining, exceptional training opportunities and the pride of being able to make a good living working in the places these men and women grew up or want to call home.