Supporters said activities such as youth baseball tournaments are good for economic development because they attract hundreds of out-of-towners who pay for meals, gasoline and hotel rooms. They also said young people need places for healthful, productive activities so they can stay off the streets and out of trouble.
“It’s cheaper for us to come with legislation like this … than to send these children to prison,” said Republican Sen. Tommy Gollott of Biloxi.
Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, a Democrat from Canton, was less diplomatic.
“If you’re against the children of Mississippi, you vote no,” Jones told the opponents of the parks tax.
That rankled Sen. Billy Hudson, a Purvis Republican who retired from Hudson Salvage after a successful career as chief executive officer.
“The idea if we don’t pass this bill we don’t love our children and we’re going to send them to prison is absolutely wrong,” Hudson said.
The money-equals-love formula has a clear downside. It can become a shortcut that erases most of the nuance from discussions about the performance of government programs. Just look at the debate about Mississippi’s public education system for the past dozen years.