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One Quarter of Mississippians Lives in Poverty

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Sep 2012 06:11pm | comments
Nearly one in four Mississippians lives in poverty according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the news comes on the heels that Mississippi is back in a recession.
 
The federal poverty line for a family of four is about $23,000 dollars per year. One hundred twenty thousand families in Mississippi live below that line. Sarah Welker, with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center says families need help now more than ever.
 
"They need those pathways to greater economic opportunity, and funding these needs will require additional resources. Leaders need to take a balanced approach, that includes revenue generation to fill those priorities."
 
Lawmakers in both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature, like Senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, have repeatedly said, they have no intentions of raising more revenue.
 
"It's just not good economic policy. Anyone who knows basic economics knows, you don't raise taxes during a recession...period, and I will not, under any circumstances, support a tax increase."
 
Mississippi's high poverty rate means about 44 percent of residents filing tax returns paid no income tax because they didn't earn enough money. Forest Thigpen, President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy wants a broader debate over what it means to be in poverty.
 
"We act as if everybody is lazy or nobody is lazy and everybody is at fault or nobody is at fault. The fact is, the poor are not a monolithic group so there is no one solution that's going to help all of them."
 
Many policy analysts agree education and training are the keys to reducing Mississippi's high poverty rate. They just disagree on how to accomplish that goal.

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