Jackson, Miss. — Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann laid out three new initiatives today aimed at heightening transparency at the State Legislature, raising state employees’ salaries, and infusing counties and cities with funds necessary to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.
Hosemann, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, proposed extending webcasting to major committee meetings and archiving all collected content. Currently, only floor debate is made available to the public via webcast. He has also promised to hold weekly press briefings on Thursdays to provide an update on bills which have been introduced and considered that week and in the future.
“Mississippians all over the State have the right to know what is going on inside their Capitol all the time—not just the day a bill is enacted,” Hosemann said.
As Secretary of State, Hosemann had a record of pushing transparency initiatives, including putting all 16th Section and Tidelands leases online, creating an electronic and searchable campaign finance system, and updating the State’s archaic business laws and filing system.
In terms of raising State employees’ salaries, Hosemann said he will ask most agencies to save 1 percent in administrative and overhead expenses while maintaining current staffing. Savings realized would be used to move positions in all state agencies closer to the relevant market rate. Employees would receive either a position realignment raise, if the amount to reach the market rate is less than 3 percent, or a 3 percent raise, at a total tab of about $13 million.
Education, Mental Health, Child Protection Services, Corrections, and District Attorneys/Trial Judges would be exempt from the savings plan, though employees from those agencies would receive a raise.
“We are not talking about cutting personnel or services; we are talking about finding efficiencies,” Hosemann said. “I turned back part of my budget every year as your Secretary of State ($1.49 million last year), and we can accomplish the same in other State agencies. Our State employees are underpaid, which undercuts our ability to attract and retain workers. This isn’t enough, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Finally, on local roads and bridges, Hosemann said he supported allowing a local option user fee on gasoline from two to six cents a gallon. The option would include the legal requirement that all money raised would go directly to the county and would be used only on repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, not equipment, new construction, salaries, or other costs.
“Right now, more than 430 local bridges are closed because they are too dangerous to travel on and there are thousands of miles of local roads which are in need of caretaking,” Hosemann said. “This is an economic and public safety problem because our employees cannot get to work, our products cannot get to market, our children cannot get to school safely, and our counties need solutions.”
A bill passed during the 2018 Special Session, the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act, addressed some infrastructure concerns.
“Government should be run from the counties and not the Capitol, and this plan is aimed at giving constituents and counties the power to decide if they need additional infrastructure resources,” Hosemann said.
For more information about Hosemann’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor, visit www.delberthosemann.com.