Children’s Defense Fund hosts panel discussion on ‘Democracy Under Siege’

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You hear plenty of back and forth during the legislative session. Expect to keep that going since it’s a statewide election year.

The Children’s Defense Fund believes there’s a need for changes, while others think the state’s on the right track.

”I think that what we see going on here, Mississippi makes it really, really hard to convince somebody to stay here after they graduate,” said panelist Maisie Brown, ACLU of Mississippi Coordinator and 2023 Truman Scholar.

The panelists argue there’s more progressive views in Mississippi than what’s being represented by many elected officials.

“People need to be aware of how obstinate and and wrongheaded their political leadership has been,” explained panelist Brandon Jones, Southern Poverty Law Center Director of Political Campaigns.

House minority leader Rep. Robert Johnson looks at it this way.

“The thing that was more indicative of about how how far we removed ourselves from democracy is that we still have the high rate of poverty among children and adults,” said Johnson. “We see at hospitals about to close. We had people in the middle of a tornado having to drive 40 miles to hospital, not because the hospital has been destroyed by the tornado, but because the hospital was closed, because the state of Mississippi refused to take Medicaid expansion.”

The panel offered up various examples of why they believe leadership is putting the best interest of Mississippians first. Republican Sen. Joey Fillingane disagrees.

“I don’t think their arguments have much merit. I think it sounds more like political whining,” said Fillingane.

He says it’s a matter of a different mindset but he thinks election results are on Republican’s side.

“We have a growing economy,” noted Fillingane. “We have tons of jobs looking for workers. And that’s where we need to focus on I think, quite correctly have focused most of our energies in the legislature on trying to put money into workforce development into improving educational outcomes and opportunities in our state so that people can get off of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and truly make it temporary.”

The primary election will be held August 8 with the general election on November 7.

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