Monday, January 5, 2015

Speaker Gunn Devoid of Good Ideas

Yesterday, we discussed Governor Phil Bryant's goals for the upcoming year. This time, we take a look at House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton).

Gunn spoke with the Clarion-Ledger to lay out his priorities for the upcoming legislative session. After watching parts of the interview and reading the text of it, Gunn's priorities look to be the Tea Party's wish list. This should come as no surprise since coming into office Gunn has been the Igor to the Tea Party's Dr. Frankenstein.

From the Clarion-Ledger interview, these are some of Gunn's/the Tea Party's goals:
•Convention of states: Gunn wants Mississippi's Legislature to join 34 other states in passing a resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and require Congress to pass a balanced budget. Article V of the Constitution says two-thirds of states can force a convention, and delegates of 38 states can ratify amendments.
•Common Core: Gunn said he supports "removing any federal control" over Mississippi's education standards and wants the state to "opt out" of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing tied to Common Core standards.
•MAEP lawsuit: Gunn said he opposes litigation led by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on behalf of 21 school districts suing the state for $230 million they say is owed them under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula. Gunn said Musgrove is "taking advantage" of confusing legislation and trying to line his own pockets through legal fees and he wants the Legislature to pass a measure to thwart the litigation.
I don't know about you, but Gunn's wish list looks pretty pitiful.

A convention of states? This is his priority? We have the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the country, and this is how Gunn wants to spend the legislature's time? I would ask why Gunn isn't calling for a convention of policy leaders to discuss how to fix our state's poverty issues, but the answer is already known. Gunn doesn't care.

And there's Common Core, a policy supported by the state's business community and education professionals. Gunn has held the Speaker's gavel for three years. If he has such reservations about the policies, he is three years into his tenure and has put no reform proposals on the table.

With respect to the MAEP lawsuit, Gunn is missing the point. Rather than fund public education as the law mandates, Gunn throws out a knee-jerk idea like enacting a law to keep plaintiffs out of court. Imagine the precedent this sets. Furthermore, if he thinks the MAEP is "confusing legislation," why has he not pushed a single reform bill in the three years he has been Speaker of the House? Perhaps he is more interested in maintaining and complaining about the problem than solving it.

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