Thursday, April 16, 2009

Miss. Center for Justice to Gov. Barbour: Take Our Money!

The blog Facing South is reporting that the Mississippi Center for Justice, a non-profit organization in Jackson (to which many of my dearest friends have ties) has started a campaign to urge Governor Barbour to take all of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds targeted for Mississippi.

The Mississippi Center for Justice is here

The Facing South story is

Facing South says:

The federal stimulus package contains a $7 billion fund to expand unemployment benefits to a half-million more people across the country, including part-time workers. . . . . When Barbour rejected Mississippi's $56 million in unemployment insurance benefits, he argued that the funds would cost business owners an additional $16 million each year once the federal government's money is spent. The Mississippi state legislature had the power to overrule Barbour's decision with a joint resolution -- while the Mississippi State House passed a resolution to take the federal dollars, the similar resolution failed in the Senate.

Barbour and the other Southern governors have been accused of using federal stimulus money to score big points with GOP fiscal conservatives and to gain clout as up-and-coming leadership in the Republican party. Barbour himself has been on the national stage frequently during the past few weeks, giving addressees that have been critical of the economic recovery stimulus package and the president's budget plan.

Facing South's story continues:

The Mississippi Center for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, launched a new online campaign called "Standing With Mississippi" that includes a petition urging Barbour to accept the $56 million in unemployment insurance benefits, pointing out that the aid could help some 40,000 people weather the recession and generate more than $120 million in economic activity in the state.

"Thousands of Mississippi families are in desperate need of funds to purchase food, pay for shelter and provide basic necessities for themselves and their children," the online campaign says "Please join us in standing with Mississippi and asking Governor Barbour to accept these much-needed Unemployment Insurance funds. We, in turn, pledge to keep the pressure on our elected officials and hold them accountable for providing every opportunity for a fair and equitable recovery for all Mississippians."

Community advocates have also rejected Barbour's claim that the aid would commit the state to any future tax increase, underscoring that the UI benefits can be done on a temporary basis to provide much-needed relief, and when the funds run out the state can eliminate or scale back the reforms to ensure the system remains solvent without raising taxes on businesses.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

You can find the Petition here

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