Dr. Michael Forster

Mississippi social workers need to watch, think, act

If you think this is bad, wait, it’s going to get worse.  The poorest state in the USA is likely to spiral down further under the impact of continuous budget slashing at the state level (Gov. Bryant just ordered the 3rd cut to the current year’s budget, the 5th in the last two years, and is calling for even more cuts next year), and eventual cuts to federal human services funding by the Trump administration.  As per usual, the most vulnerable will endure the most suffering.

The governor likes to say (I heard him on the radio this morning, and he said it again) that (1) he must balance the budget, and when revenues are down, as they are, that means cuts, and (2) Mississippi is not alone, with 30 or more other states enduring the same economic woes as we are.

True as far as it goes, but this line doesn’t go nearly far enough.  What the governor doesn’t like to remind us is that Mississippi, along with most of the others states in fiscal trouble, has seriously hurt its revenue by slashing taxes and refusing to enact new taxes of any kind, based on the false belief (a virtual article of faith on the political right wing) that tax reductions painlessly engender booming economies and robust new revenue streams.  When the boom doesn’t arrive, budget cuts to education, health care, mental health, public safety, public infrastructure, and just about everything else “public,” necessarily ensue.

Unless this rapid race to the bottom is checked, things can only get worse.  Last year (2016) Gov. Bryant signed into law the biggest package of tax cuts in Mississippi history, scheduled to start kicking in in 2018.  And we haven’t even started to factor in the financial impact on poor ole Mississippi of an expected repeal of the Affordable Care Act and federal Medicaid cuts.

Pay attention social workers.  We can’t assume that “tomorrow will be more or less like today.”  It decidedly will not be.  Watch. Think.  Act.

Dr. Michael Forster
Dr. Michael Forster

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