Mississippi editorial roundup – McClatchy Washington Bureau

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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June 29

The Daily Leader on Medicaid cuts:

As with a lot of legislation coming out of Washington, the general public appears to be in the dark about the details of the health care overhaul plans being considered.

According to a poll administered by Kaiser Health News, while almost three-fourths of Americans have a favorable view of Medicaid, only 38 percent were aware that legislation being considered in the House and Senate would make major funding changes to the program.

About 25 percent of respondents said the legislation made minor changes and 13 percent didn’t realize there were any changes at all.

The Senate’s plan to replace Obamacare would leave an additional 22 million people without health coverage over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Federal spending on Medicaid would drop by 26 percent over current spending projections in the Senate plan, or $772 billion, over the next decade, according to the analysis.

Depending on your view of government and its role in people’s lives, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. We happen to think it’s a bad thing.

The drop in spending would occur mainly because the Senate plan phases out federal funds for states to expand Medicaid and it puts annual caps on federal Medicaid dollars to states, according to Kaiser Health News.

In Mississippi, more than 400,000 children are on Medicaid. Another 175,000 on Medicaid are disabled or blind. A total of 25 percent of the state’s population is covered by Medicaid.

If the state loses some of its federal Medicaid funding, fewer Mississippians will have access to health care through Medicaid. That includes many Mississippians who are no doubt Republicans and support the legislation currently being crafted by a Republican-controlled Senate.

That’s the funny thing about Mississippi. We are a state full of small government conservatives, but we also can’t wean ourselves off the federal government’s money. We like the idea of smaller government and deficit reductions, but in reality, we really like Uncle Sam’s handouts.

Online: http://www.dailyleader.com/

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July 1

The Sun Herald on the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s handling of finding a solution for the Kemper plant:

The Mississippi Public Service Commission served the customers of Mississippi Power well.

In the first year of service for two members, the commission was handed the dicey task of reaching an equitable solution for the Kemper County power plant. The plant was over budget by billions and behind schedule by years.

It was a tight spot.

But commissioners Sam Britton, Brandon Presley and Cecil Brown proved to be up to the task. Last week, the PSC nudged Mississippi Power and other parties with an interest in the Kemper plant toward a settlement. They made it clear they thought it best the plant be operated with natural gas, not the syngas the plant would make from lignite coal.

They also said the settlement should include no further rate increase to pay for the plant.

That was a bold move.

This week, Mississippi Power agreed it would run the plant on natural gas, for now.

Mississippi Power had some powerful supporters, former Gov. Haley Barbour among them.

But it has many critics as well.

A lawsuit caused the company to pay millions back to its customers. Other suits have yet to be resolved.

Now, it is up to the Public Service Commission to finalize this agreement. It said it plans to do just that at its meeting Thursday in Jackson.

The plant opened with great promise. Mississippi Power said it would diversify its portfolio and possibly revolutionize the energy industry.

And its Transport Integrated Gasification technology indeed may one day bring a return on the Mississippi Power investment.

But for South Mississippi, the timing wasn’t right. Gas prices fell sharply because of the success of fracking and they remained low.

The plant’s critics never were able to convince Mississippi Power to switch the plant to gas only. But the PSC saw that switching to gas was the best route and the commission had the power and political will to persuade Mississippi Power to go along.

Mississippi is lucky to have such knowledgeable men of vision on its PSC. It is an often overlooked but important job. They have performed it admirably.

And finally, we hope that Mississippi Power emerges from this chapter in its history a stronger, smarter company.

Online: http://www.sunherald.com/

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June 30

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on healthy eating habits:

A partnership between the Tupelo Public School District and Food Corps of Mississippi continues to push new, innovative ways to promote healthy eating habits to area students.

Earlier this week, the TPSD maintenance staff put the finishing touches on a greenhouse at Lawndale Elementary School. Come August, the structure will be filled with plants and students.

The greenhouse, funded by a combination of grant money from the Boerner Be Wild and Toyota Wellspring funds, is the latest addition to the district’s “Growing Healthy Waves” program, as reported by the Daily Journal’s Emma Crawford Kent.

The program promotes healthy eating habits in Tupelo Schools by providing nutrition education and bringing healthy and locally grown fruits and vegetables into cafeterias. Students also learn to plant and tend to gardens and cook with the produce they grow. Earlier this year, TPSD was recognized with top honors in the form of a Governor’s Award from the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education. The district received a Governor’s Award of Distinction for its program in partnership with Food Corps of Mississippi.

The greenhouse at Lawndale shows a continued effort toward the program’s stated goal of making an impact in the lives of young people when it comes to eating healthy and understanding the nutritional values behind what they are consuming.

Like at gardens on other TPSD campuses, Lawndale students will use the greenhouse for lessons. Those lessons will be cross-curricular, tying gardening to other subjects like science, math and English.

Donna Loden, TPSD volunteer with the program, said the district hopes to use the greenhouse to further its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative, which it will roll out this fall in all schools. Eventually, Loden said, students from other schools may be able to visit the greenhouse on field trips.

She hopes it will serve as an outdoor classroom.

Loden said she also hopes to form a partnership with Pontotoc Middle School, which has a similar greenhouse and garden program. Although there isn’t currently any official partnership, Loden sought advice from Pontotoc teacher Kelly Ginn throughout the process of building and outfitting the greenhouse at Lawndale.

Pontotoc Middle students created a student farmers’ market, selling vegetables and other plants out of their greenhouse to the public, and Loden said she’s interested in eventually trying something similar with the Lawndale greenhouse as well.

A potential partnership between these two schools focused on helping better our children is truly something parents of both communities should be thrilled about.

Instilling healthy eating habits in our young people at an early age can help with so many things later in life. These types of programs — in Tupelo, Pontotoc and across our region — are well worth investing in now, if it means the future leaders of our communities will be healthier than ever before.

Online: http://www.djournal.com/

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