The 2017 legislative session starts today. Political analysts say education, infrastructure, and the state budget will be key issues. MPB's Mark Rigsby reports.
Democrat Brandon Jones and Republican Austin Barbour are looking forward to state lawmakers getting back to work. They disagree with each other on one of the most anticipated items on the agenda this year: education funding. Barbour is eager to see what the nonprofit group EdBuild, hired by Republican leadership to recommend changes to the state's education funding formula, will present to the legislature.
“We want as much money going to children to educate them as we possibly can. We don’t want these kids to be trapped in bad school districts.”
But Jones says not so fast.
"We are re-evaluating a program that Mississippians are on the record saying they want and saying they want fully funded for something we don't what it is."
Last session, the tension between Republicans and Democrats played out with protests in both chambers. The Democrat, Jones, hopes his party can make a difference under the Republican super majority.
"I hope, and will be counseling for, our people to be respectful, and to try to be productive parts of the process. But at the end of the day, when you're the minority party, you can only participate to the extent you're allowed to participate."
The Republican, Barbour, believes his party is now responsible to the voters.
"We have to remember that working class voters spoke very clearly on November the 8th. Republicans we going to give you power. We're going to give you control, but you need to go address these issues."
Barbour and Jones agree on one thing. They say social issues aren't likely to come up this session when more pressing issues face the state.