Spending federal economic stimulus funds legally – and constitutionally – should not be a problem in Mississippi if the Legislature and the governor come to common understandings about congressional intent before funds are dispersed.
The worst that can happen with the billions of dollars apportioned to Mississippi for dozens of programs and agencies is becoming entrapped in a web of litigation preventing money from getting to intended recipients.
It’s possible in nationwide and Mississippi politics that a new and fierce form of partisanship can cause a gridlock in the stimulus process, but almost everybody in both parties wants most of the money moving into the economy as soon as possible. In our state, the stimulus means both jobs and services.
Medicaid, the statewide health insurance coverage system for the poor, single mothers, the disabled and many children, needs the stimulus to fully fund the program. Only a series of windfalls carried on the wings of tragedy (Hurricane Katrina), and bookkeeping errors (laid at the feet of the Musgrove administration), and now the rancid economy, make funding possible.
The Legislature cannot make itself decide how to fund the shortfalls. Last week, it again failed to levy a “tax” on some hospitals participating in the program.