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Mississippi Lawmakers Prepare To Return To Jackson

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 Dec 2012 12:30pm | comments

Mississippi lawmakers are preparing to head back to Jackson to begin the 3-month legislative session. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on the biggest issues facing legislators.

In addition to the yearly challenge of writing a balanced state budget, Marty Wiseman, the director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University says lawmakers have a big decision presented to them by Washington DC....whether or not to expand who is eligible for Medicaid.

"It is not going to be an easy call to make. You have got the political side that says Republicans should resist what Barack Obama has included in the Affordable Care Act in terms of expanding Medicaid. Yet the political is going to come from the side of the 300-or-so thousand who would be eligible and their families," Wiseman said.

Wiseman says it is difficult to predict what state lawmakers will do because the politics are so complicated but the cost of the program will probably play a key role.

Key state lawmakers have laid out an ambitious education reform agenda which Wiseman says is increasingly pressing in order to keep up  with the modern economy.

"In Mississippi, we are pretty well aware of what the figures are. So I think education is being forced in our lap to take it to the next level of reform," Wiseman said.

And, Wiseman says, the republican majority is still getting accustomed to its majority status after taking control of the Mississippi house for the first time since reconstruction following the 20-11 legislative election.

The 20-13 session begins January 8th.

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