House Committee Discusses Needs of Poor

By: Ashley Conroy
By: Ashley Conroy

The Mississippi House Select Committee on Poverty met Thursday to discuss state government services for the poor.

"We've seen a lot of people in our offices that we've never seen before, or ever thought that they'd be into a public assistance office," said
Department of Human Services deputy administrator Richard Berry.

And because more Mississippians need public assistance, the agency has had to revamp its program to keep up the pace.

"What really has carried us through these increased case loads over the last few years has been a lot of innovative technology," Berry said.

Those ideas were brought to the table for the House committee to come up with innovative solutions to reach the poor in Mississippi.

"This is an effort to rally around the basic needs that Mississippi has and reducing poverty," said Rep. Reecy Dickson, committee chair.

"The ideas that this committee is taking up actually came from public hearings that were held across the state in the past couple of years," said Rep. Kirk Dedeaux.

Lawmakers want Mississippians to get more jobs and reduce the state's high unemployment rate.

They also say they want to tackle the state's high infant mortality rate and get people better access to health care.

On top of this, they want to reach out to Mississippians on the importance of education, regardless of someone's background.

"Individuals in the state of Mississippi that have been a part of Mississippi all of their life do not realize also that poverty is the number one problem that exists," said Dickson.

Because of the condition of Mississippi's economy, the committee says it is not going to ask the state for additional funds to help with its services.

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