Senate Passes Base Closure, Education Bills

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The Mississippi Senate took the decision about who should be Mississippi's base closure consultant away from Gov. Ronnie Musgrove Tuesday by giving the funding to a council of mayors representing affected communities. Was the action a rebuff to the governor?

"It's not a rebuff to Gov. Musgrove," said Sen. Terry C. Burton of Newton. "This is a rubber stamp on what the Mississippi Military Communities have said and that is that Barry Rhodes is the best."

"Now he may take it that way. I don't really care," said Sen. Videt Carmichael of Meridian. "I think that this is just wise use of the money and this is the way to do it."

"Having Barry Rhodes back on board makes all the difference in the world for every community in Mississippi with a military base," said Mayor John Robert Smith of Meridian.

Lt. Governor Amy Tuck helped push the bill through the senate.

"It's my responsibility as Lt. Governor to work with our communities and they all came and talked to me, they shared with me their concerns and they told me how devastating it would be on our state for anything to happen to our base closures," said Tuck. "After that I certainly knew we had to make some legislative changes and today I'm very pleased that the state senate did that."

As for the education bill, lawmakers have apparently found a solution to the funding problems.

"Fully funded MAEP means that Meridian schools will receive approximately $1.2 million that they wouldn't have received," said Carmichael. "Lauderdale County schools are going to receive something like $650,000 that they wouldn't have gotten. Enterprise is going to get around $200,000 they wouldn't have gotten. Quitman somewhere around $500,000 or $600,000 thousand."

Tuck praised the senate's action on education.

"Education is a priority," said Tuck. "I'm very pleased that we were able to fund this the way that we have and I'm very pleased that we were able to do this and we did it in a fiscally responsible way."

Both bills will now move to the House for its consideration.