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Governor releases budget recommendations for fiscal year 2022



Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves in a news conference April 20. (Photo via video screen capture)

Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced his fiscal year 2022 executive budget recommendations.

Among his recommendations, Reeves is touting eliminating personal income tax for Mississippians, which is part of a law passed in 2017. As of 2019, individual income tax brought in about a third of the state’s revenue, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

The plan was proposed and passed by the Republican controlled state Legislature in 2017. Now, Reeves is focusing on what the elimination of the roughly $2.2 billion in state revenue would mean to individual tax payers. It would save a Mississippian making $40,000 about $1,850 the governor said in a news release. The phased rollout is expected to be finalized over 10 years, and the maximum tax savings would only be realized at the end of the plan.

As Lt. Governor, Reeves helped pass the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act that began the phase-out of the 3% income tax on the first $5,000 of income. FY 2022, which begins in the fall of next year, is the first year for the 3% income tax to be completely eliminated if all goes according to plan, and Reeves said this is the right time to begin a complete the phase-out of the income tax.

“Because this plan is a phased approach, we will be able to ensure adequate funding will be available for education, law enforcement, health care and transportation priorities,” Reeves said in the statement. “It will not be necessary for us to increase other taxes in order to make up for lost revenue from the elimination of the income tax.”

Republicans are banking on making up the lost revenue by reinvestment such as expanded corporate capital projects and increased production and purchase of goods and services. The tax cut phases would only proceed if the state sees proportional increases in its gross domestic product.

The budget summary also highlights

  • additional funding for the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy,
  • protecting small businesses affected by COVID-19,
  • creating a “Patriotic Education Fund” to counter “indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings,”
  • supporting quality education by “limiting funding for school districts unwilling to provide the option” of in-person classes during the pandemic,
  • increasing workforce development,
  • funding state agencies such as the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi State Department of Health for their part in the COVID-19 response
  • funding the judiciary and
  • protecting the integrity of Medicaid through driving down taxpayer costs.

“I remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi,” the governor wrote in his proposal.

Reeves is recommending $2 million to train and prepare teachers across the state in computer science courses to provide K-12 students with coding, cyber training, robotics and artificial intelligence skills. The governor is also recommending $3 million to fund coaches targeting math skills.

“We have seen the success of reading coaches as a tool to boost the early learning for our children. We need to accelerate recent successes in results for math – setting children up for success,” Reeves said.

The governor is also proposing $50 million in one-time funds to accelerate workforce growth. Those funds would be used to facilitate six specific goals as listed in the budget:

  1. Modernize and expand community college training programs,
  2. Provide scholarships or wage assistance to help low-income citizens get into training programs or apprenticeships,
  3. Develop the right industry certified credentials or programs in high-school,
  4. Grow Mississippi’s path of IT-based skills,
  5. Expand dual credit programs in high-schools, and
  6. Incentivize career technical courses in high-schools.

“I have always promised to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars, and this budget reflects that commitment to each of you,” Reeves said.

Overall, Reeves’ proposal is $1.1 billion less than the nearly $7.3 billion budget for the current fiscal year. The savings are realized through essentially cutting programs funded through the $1.25 federal emergency COVID-19 relief bill known as the CARES Act. The proposal’s biggest cuts include taking $200 million from the general education funds for distance learning and broadband availability, $7.5 million from higher education, $96 million from MSDH’s COVID-19 funds for hospitals, $13 million from the Department of Agriculture, $99.3 million from social welfare, $115 million from Military, Police and Veterans Affairs and $55 million from the Employment Security Fund, which helped fund the enormous uptick in unemployment benefits after “non-essential” businesses were shut down last spring.

Read the governor’s proposal (PDF).


Polk Street home destroyed in overnight blaze



(photo submitted by VDNews reader)

An overnight fire on Polk Street has left one home destroyed and two neighboring homes damaged.

Photo by Thomas Parker

The fire at 1028 Polk Street was first reported at 12:53 a.m. and was reported as a burning mattress on the front porch. Vicksburg Fire Department Battalion Chief Henry Williams reported that the house was heavily involved upon firefighters’ arrival, and VFD spent several hours battling the blaze.

Engines 6, 7, 8, Platform 1, Rescue, Fire Medic 40 and Battalion 1 responded to extinguish the fire.

Photo by Thomas Parker

According to Vicksburg Fire Department Chief Craig Danczyk the structure is a total loss, and the homes at 1026 Polk Street and 1030 Polk Street also received damage.

There were no injuries reported.


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Multiple vehicle wreck at Mission 66 and Indiana Avenue



First responders were on the scene of a multiple vehicle accident at Mission 66 and Indiana Avenue in Vicksburg Saturday evening.

Police and rescue vehicles were called to the scene around 7 p.m.

First reports say there are multiple injuries in this accident.

The Vicksburg Daily News will provide additional details as they become available. Please avoid the area if you can.

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Mississippi sets new one-day COVID-19 case record Saturday with 1,972 reported



Mississippi zoomed past the previous one-day record of new COVID-19 cases Saturday, with the Mississippi State Department of Health reporting 1,972. The previous record of 1,775 new cases was reported July 30.

Three weeks into November, the number of new cases reported is more than all the cases reported in October.

The state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases continues to climb toward the numbers seen in this summer’s surge. Saturday, the average neared 1,300 per day. A steep rise in hospitalizations is accompanying the rise in new cases, threatening once again to overwhelm the state’s health care system.

Across the U.S., the surge is gathering speed. Friday, at least 198,500 new cases were reported, another record, and the seven-day average of new cases is quickly approaching 200,000 per day. Cases are rising in 47 states. Hospitalizations are soaring as well, with more than 82,000 patients.

Friday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it has submitted its application for emergency use of its vaccine to the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Approval is expected to take about three weeks. If approved, the vaccine could be available to high-risk groups such as health-care workers and the elderly before the end of the year.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 16 new COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,707, and the county’s death toll is 56. Although the county has been spared the huge increases seen elsewhere, the 14-day average has risen from about five cases per day to nearly 7 cases in the past few weeks. No deaths have been reported in the county in November.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,972 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, the highest one-day increase since the crisis began, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 142,401. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,294 per day, about 536 cases and nearly 60% higher than the seven-day average a month ago. The average is on par with numbers seen in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In September, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi were 18 to 24 years old. That has shifted to a slightly older group. In November, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported Saturday that 15 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,657. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.6%. This rate has dropped slightly as the number of cases are going up faster than the number of deaths at this time.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25.

The deaths MSDH reported Saturday occurred between Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Holmes 1
Jackson 3
Jefferson Davis 1
Lafayette 1
Lee 1
Madison 1
Pearl River 1
Perry 1
Rankin 1
Tate 1
Walthall 1
Yazoo 1

Another six COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
DeSoto 2
Harrison 1
Marshall 2
Sharkey 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations tripled by late July.

Hospitalizations then steadily dropped through Oct. 3 when they began rising again along with increased cases. The last week in October, hospitalizations were levelling off; however, since Nov. 4 hospitals have seen a steady rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, was 965, about 80% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 863 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 102 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 225 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 99 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 116,683 through Sunday, Nov. 15. It represents about 81.9% of the cumulative 142,401 cases reported as of Saturday, Nov. 21.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Oct. 31, was 1,576, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,520, or about 89% of the 1,707 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Nov. 21. The county has an estimated 131 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Nov. 14, is 1,165,593 or about 39.2% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the rate was 19.7% Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 173 Saturday, an increase of three since Friday. About 38.3%, or 1,400, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,384, about 5.2% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 26 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 6.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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