Gov. Tate Reeves has vetoed the “Jackson Water Bill,” a piece of proposed legislation that passed in both the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives with no opposing vote. Reeves announced his veto on Facebook Monday.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba last week touted Senate bill 2856 as a legal means to readjust burgeoning bills of Jackson residents occasioned by a dysfunctional billing system.
Reeves, however, found several holes in the proposal, not least being its application to only municipalities with a minimum of 150,000 people, which means only Jackson. "Other cities have issues, too,” he wrote. “Why should only Jackson get a carve-out?" he asked.
"It's a bill that only applies to the city of Jackson. It allows politicians to say that individuals are not responsible for paying their water bill," he wrote. "It's supposed to be for the impoverished or needy, but there are no safeguards in place to make sure that's the case. It's totally up to them."
He opposed the carte-blanche power for politicians to decide debt forgiveness, saying that a government acting like it can give free money usually leads to higher taxes.
"I'm very concerned about the 'free money' concept that has taken over politics today," the governor said.
The legislation also contradicts an existing law, he wrote, which states that "No free service shall be furnished by any [government] system to any private person, firm, corporation, or association."
That law was put in place because "for years, Mississippi had a problem with politicians giving taxpayer-funded services away as political gifts,” Reeves said.
"Allowing a few politicians to determine who does and does not have to pay for government services is bad policy. It removes all responsibility for the city from the equation," he added.
He sees it as allowing "a few politicians to determine who does and does