There are rumblings about the possibility of a special session to deal with the pandemic. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said last week he’d spoken with House Speaker Philip Gunn, and they want to be prepared if the Governor sends out the call. During an interview with SuperTalk Mississippi this morning, House Minority Leaders Robert Johnson says the fact that lawmakers have been holding hearings on issues like medical marijuana and the income tax signal that the legislature is in business.
“The business we ought to be conducting is finding a way to offer support to our essential workers, our health care institutions, in our schools…places where they need our help and support. And there are things we can do.”
Johnson pointed to the $1.8-billion in Cares Act funding Mississippi has already received. “Let’s take some of that $1.8-billion and give it to us so we can hire more nurses. Or we can pay the ones we have more money so they won’t be encouraged to leave and go places where they can make more money.”
Other states offer 13 week contracts to nurses where they can make as much as $120.00 per hour. Mississippi hospitals can’t compete with that.
Johnson says the Cares Act funding can be used to enhance the pay of essential workers. “That’s not just health care workers. You can do it for grocery store workers, and people who are working every day to keep our utilities going. All those kind of things that you need to do, that money is for that,” he explained.
The $1.8-billion has been in the bank for months. “It’s been here. We have until 2024 to use it. And some people are, ah we’ll take our time. We don’t have time,” Johnson stressed. “People are dying.”
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