Hosemann on 16th Section Land Management

By  | 

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says there's a push from state leaders to change how a certain percentage of land oversight is handled. And he says it's a bad idea.

"Every year we get the same thing," said Hosemann. "Somebody wants to change the process and go back to where we were 40 years ago."

The debate involves 16th Section land, also known as school trust lands. There are more than 640,000 acres of it across Mississippi, all of it set aside for the benefit of public schools.

A common use is hunting leases. It's managed by a system that includes school boards, boards of supervisors, the forestry commission and the secretary of state's office.

Some lawmakers, however, want to give control of those lands directly to local school districts which Hosemann says would lead to misuse.

"When you take any oversight out of this, we're going to go back to sweetheart deals," Hosemann said. "And every year some member of the legislature, and they've already started, come up with some idea to go back to sweetheart deals."

Hosemann says the system in place generates about $90 million a year for school districts. He says that's a testament to it working.

As supervisory trustee overseeing management and leasing of those lands, Hosemann says lawmakers need to leave the system alone.

"We can't just run a billion dollars worth of property in one little school board," said Hosemann. "They've got other things to do, like educate kids."

As of Monday morning, a bill looking to make the change had not yet been filed at the state capitol, but Hosemann says he expects it will.