Sun Herald: Hood using tax money to fund Weight Watchers memberships is ‘quite a leap’

Last year the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill to create state employee wellness programs. This week a spokesman for Attorney General Jim Hood cited that legislation as justification for Hood spending nearly $50,000 on gym and Weight Watchers memberships for his employees.

But as Sun Herald Political Editor Geoff Pender reported on Tuesday, two co-authors of the bill said the legislative intent was to encourage fitness through educating employees and allowing flexibility with their work schedules for exercise, not purchasing memberships with gyms or Weight Watchers.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2626, encourages state agencies to do several well-intended but seemingly unfunded things, such as coordinate “discounts with gyms and fitness centers across the state.” It also recommends “healthy food choices in snack bars, vending machines and state-run cafeterias.”

It is quite a leap to jump from such frugal suggestions to spending $10,000 on a Weight Watchers program at the attorney general’s main office in Jackson for a year and signing three contracts, at $12,960 each, with the YMCA, Baptist Healthplex and The Club LLC to allow Hood’s employees to use whichever of their fitness facilities in the Jackson area is most convenient.

Sun Herald ed board
9/14/11