Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi Center for Public Policy’

Online county spending data could create citizen auditors

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has unveiled the lasted addition to the SeeTheSpending.orgwebsite.  Last year they announced the web site which has very user friendly features for searching state spending data in Mississippi.  Searches can be done by vendor, category, agency, date with other options as well - and the data is updated quarterly. Now the site is enhanced with county spending over the past six fiscal years also easily searchable.  Most of Mississippi’s counties have responded to their records request which costs the county nothing (MCPP pays for the associated costs with private funds). I write about the new county data this week in the Madison County Journal: Madison leads transparency.  The web site is also the topic of Charlie Mitchell’s column this week: Potential is strong for ‘See the Spending’ website.

Another interesting item on the web site is a beta version of a full archiveof each day’s floor action for the 2010 and 2011 legislative session for the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives.  You can check that out as well (may be helpful to cross reference the state’s billstatus web site when looking for particular items of action).

MCPP To Reveal How Tax Dollars are Spent by County Governments

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has announced a press conference to introduce an expansion of its web site that will put all county government spending online for Mississippians to examine. Previously, their data provided detailed search capacity by vendor, account, or agency for the State of Mississippi for review. Here are details of the press conference:

Mississippi Center for Public Policy Puts County Spending Details Online for the Public
Who: Mississippi Center for Public Policy, an independent, non-profit think tank
What: News Conference to Present Addition of County Spending Data to MCPP’s
Spending Transparency Website,
Where: MCPP Offices, 520 George Street, Jackson, MS 39202
(park in adjacent parking lot)
When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Why: Demonstrate how the web site works and answer questions about the data
Details: For the first time ever, Mississippians will be able to see online exactly how county governments spend their money – even down to the transaction level. Mississippi Center for Public Policy’s transparency website,, which currently features a searchable database of state spending, will be updated on Tuesday to include spending by 62 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Join us to learn more about the site, its features, and the benefits to the media and the public.

This is great news for citizens interested in how their tax dollars are spent, reporters, bloggers, campaigns, vendors who want to compete in government contracts, and elected officials concerned about over spending.

Mississippi can

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has launched a great tool for taxpayers and journalists called  Every dime the State of Mississippi has spent since FY2004 is now in an easily managed database. Every month, the data is updated.

Eventually there will be other data searches including state contracts, county and municipal spending, and school spending; but those have not yet launched. But just the state spending is a major step forward for government transparency.

At their press conference today, MCPP President Forest Thigpen explained this isn’t just for “gotcha” research or to find any suspicious spending by the government. He stressed the purpose of the site is 1) to better allow taxpayers to know how their money is being spent and 2) so taxpayers, journalists, even those in government can better identify ways to cut spending.

I recommend checking it out.

RR: Various topics - Confederate Memorial Day, Comedy Central, MSGOP Switch & History, ObamaCare Reviewed

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

No, those four subjects don’t have that much in common, except that they were all topics of recent columns. Briefly, here they are, all in the Madison County Journal.

Should Mississippi celebrate Confederate Memorial Day? Issues trump historical debates

Why did an American network edit a program about Muhammad? Comedy Central bends to extremists

What growth has the MSGOP experienced since 1963? GOP celebrates switch and history

What impact will ObamaCare have on patients, doctors, employers, and state budgets? ObamaCare examined

RR: Charter schools a stone’s throw away

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

In Reasonably Right this week I discuss the efforts by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy to improve Mississippi’s charter public school laws to provide that alternative choice for parents. Here are some excerpts:

The MCPP produced a DVD on charter schools distributed by mail to thousands of Mississippi parents. Entitled “A Stone’s Throw,” it shows parents in the Delta do not have the opportunities and choices that parents possess just a stone’s throw away in Arkansas and Tennessee. You can view the video at their charter school web site

“A Stone’s Throw” shows the successes in communities neighboring the Mississippi Delta with charter schools.

The Delta College Preparatory School (DCPS) in Helena, Arkansas is one of 66 KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) public schools across the country in states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia. DCPS serves 300 students (fifth through tenth grade). The schools cites their scores from the Stanford Norm tests to show students in three years moved from the 22nd to the 76th percentile in language, and 20th to 82nd percentile in math. Teachers and students subscribe to the school’s motto in all their lessons, “There are no shortcuts.”

Curtis Weathers traveled from the football field at Ole Miss, to seven years with the Cleveland Browns. Now he tackles public education in Memphis as the executive director of the Memphis Academy for Health Sciences, a public school chartered by 100 Black Men of Memphis.

“There are two things that make a great school: one is order, the other is great teachers,” says Weathers in the video. “The most beautiful thing about a charter school is our autonomy. We can do it the way we want to do it. Our whole idea is to make school really different. It’s a serious endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it. So when you think that way, you do things a little different from time to time.”

Weathers speaks of the greatest advantage charter public schools have over traditional public schools: freedom. No one assigns a student or a teacher to a charter school; they choose the charter school. Charter schools do not have more money or more teachers or higher paid teachers or newer facilities. They have flexibility and choice: freedom with accountability.

Weathers says if students don’t succeed, then no one cares about anything else. Forest Thigpen, president of MCPP, echoes those sentiments in a new radio brief on charter schools, “Charter public schools are given freedom from some rules and regulations that traditional public schools have to follow, and in return for that freedom, they are held to a higher level of accountability….When a traditional school fails, it gets more money from the state. When a charter school fails, it closes. Now, that is accountability.”

You can read the full column in the Neshoba Democrat: Perry / Charter schools a stone’s throw away

S.C. Gov Mark Sanford: governing through freedom

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Monday night the Mississippi Center for Public Policy awarded Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour their “Governing by Principle” award.  Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was the keynote speaker. (Full disclosure: I worked at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy back in 1998 when it was the Mississippi Family Council.)

Sanford was a member of the Republican Revolution class of 1994, went home to South Carolina after three terms (self term limited) and was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2006. His speech reminded me of the principles the Republicans fought for in 1994 and the crowd was very receptive.  Were McCain-Palin to lose this November, Sanford and Barbour are both on the short list for conservatives for 2012.

You can read about the event and the speech by Sanford in my column this week in the Madison County Journal: Government through freedom.

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