Weekly rundown of the stories that caught our attention.
Which Thief Are You?
The two thieves were dying. One spewed hate with his last breaths. The other spoke the sorrow of someone who knew he deserved his sentence. He confessed. He asked only to be remembered.
Beside them, an innocent man suffering the same fate. A man, who in His own final moments of agony, extended mercy to the repentant with a promise of everlasting life.
It is beyond any legitimate dispute that we have far more in common with the thieves than with Jesus. Every prideful thought, every moment of deceit, every violent or lustful impulse driving the nails in His hands, the nail in His feet, the thorns on His head, the spear in his side.
On a cross on Calvary’s hill, beside two thieves, the son of God died as a holy sacrifice for the sins of man. His wounds tell the story of God’s boundless love. The question of eternal importance we have to ask ourselves is this: which thief am I?
What transpired on those crosses, what followed in three days with an empty tomb, is great news for the broken in need of grace. Easter is a reflection of the three most hope-filled words ever uttered: He is Risen. Happy Easter from the Magnolia Tribune family.
Show Me the Money!
From the holy to the holy moly. The Legislature just passed a $6.63 billion general fund budget for FY 2024. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2023. It bears putting that number into context. Way back in December of 2022 (or four months ago), the Joint Legislative Budget Committee recommended a general fund budget of $6.35 billion. What’s another $312 million between friends?
The 2024 budget represents a $367 million increase over FY 2023’s record budget and a nearly $800 million increase over the FY 2022 budget from just two years ago. Remember this the next time someone argues that there were insufficient funds to eliminate the income tax, or that the state budget is dreadfully lean.
Included in the recently passed budget was almost $372 million to fund “local projects” in individual Representatives’ or Senators’ districts. By a fairly wide margin, the largest sum of projects went to outgoing Speaker of the House Philip Gunn’s district. The City of Clinton, where Speaker Gunn resides, received $28 million for city improvements and the expansion of its water and sewer system. The Speaker’s district (HD 56) stretches up into Madison County, through parts of Flora and then well East into the Reunion neighborhood. Madison County received $12 million for improvements to Reunion Parkway and Bozeman Road. Flora received another $2.5 million for road projects.
Other large projects included:
- $16 million for a Health Science Complex at Hinds County Community College’s Rankin Campus.
- $15 million to the Mississippi State University Research and Technology Corporation to fund a Mississippi Cybersecurity Center adjacent to the Keesler Air Force Base on the Gulf Coast.
- $10.75 million in Rankin County for road projects. Additionally, the City of Pearl received $1.5 million for lighting and Trustmark Park in Pearl received $1.3 million.
- $10 million for the Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
- $8.5 million for road and infrastructure projects in Senatobia/Tate County.
- $8 million for the Gloster Southern Railroad Line to install new lines. The City of Gloster received another $2.5 million for roads in the vicinity of its railroad infrastructure.
- $8 million for the Scenic Rivers Development Alliance’s Okhissa Lake Project in Franklin County.
- $5 million to the City of Oxford for facilities to be used by the Oxford Police Department. Additionally, Oxford, along with Lee and Monroe Counties, received $4 million for waste facilities.
- $4.6 million for railroad improvements in Tupelo. Additionally, the Chickasaw Inkana Foundation in Tupelo received $4.95 million.
- $4.5 million for Vicksburg infrastructure improvements.