Jere’s winners and losers

I’m not going to do a “winners and losers” assessment of the special session(s), but try as I might, I just can’t let Jere’s observation about the Public Service Commissioners pass.

The Public Service Commission is supposed to be a fair arbiter of cases presented to it; in short, it is basically our state’s court for purposes of deciding on utility rates and related issues.

And it is just completely out of line for individual commissioners to carry on, as does Commisisoner Brandon Presly on radio on a regular basis, about how much more power they need in the form of more regulators and the like, in order to keep the utilities from taking advantage of them and the public. Such posturing is surely politically popular, and it’s an easy, no-risk road to take for commissioners. But the PSC acts in the nature of a court on the issue of utilitiy regulation; who actually believes that the commissioners, the judges on our utilities court, can be objective after making all sorts of public pronouncements beating up on the utilities?

The new budget allows the PSC to realign three existing personnel slots into different roles; no new staffers were authorized. If Jere thinks that neo-populist posturing and the renaming of three jobs makes Public Service Commissioners “winners”, I guess he and I just have different definitions of the term.

Andy Taggart
Clarion-Ledger Blog
7/13/9

This article was in response to Jere Nash’s article: Budget Winners & Losers

Now that the state has a budget and a funded PSC, perhaps it is time to tally up the political winners and losers.

WINNERS
Hob Bryan — Democratic senator from Monroe county, stitched together the Medicaid/hospital tax compromise, in spite of being undercut throughout the process.

Robert Johnson — Democratic representative from Adams county, rose to the occasion, and helped keep the Medicaid compromise together.

Public Service Commssioners — got the authority to hire their own staff, however limited it might be.

COULD GO EITHER WAY
Haley Barbour — got the budget funded, avoided an end-of-the-fiscal-year disaster, got some money from the hospitals; protected the rainy-day funds for future fiscal years; on the other hand, didn’t get all that he wanted from the hospitals, raised taxes on all tobacco products (“no new taxes”), vetoed money for mental health, and didn’t get near the flexibility he wanted in dealing with Medicaid shortfalls.

Phil Bryant — hitched to the governor’s belt, for better or for worse. One rarely loses in the game of politics when one is loyal.

Mississippi Hospital Association — see Haley Barbour

LOSERS
Alan Nunnelee — Republican senator from Lee county, lead Senate negotiator on the budget, and potential candidate for Congress against Travis Childers. Also stayed hitched to the governor throughout the process, but adopted plenty of positions that a good ad guy can use to make his campaign life miserable.

Utilities — they are on the radar screen now, which is never a good place for these regulated companies to find themselves.

Jere Nash
Clarion-Ledger Blog
7/13/9