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Report gives Mississippi historic ranking on education | Mississippi

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-11 15:23:00

(The Center Square) – A new report gave Mississippi its best education ranking, but the continues to struggle in other regarding child welfare.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book ranked the state 30th in education, 49th in overall child well-being, and last in economic well-being, health and family and community categories. 

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement praising the state's historic ranking.

“This is another history-making moment for Mississippi,” Reeves said. “We have more work to do, but the fact that we're 30th in the entire nation for education proves how much momentum we have in the classroom.

“Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to with the tools they need to lead fulfilling lives and secure high-paying careers in our state. Congratulations to Mississippi's , teachers, and students for once again making history.”

The report uses statewide data to compile its rankings and states from the Southeast didn't fare well in the overall rankings, which are calculated using the other categories. 

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Overall, only New Mexico was worse than Mississippi, with the other bottom five states being , Nevada and Oklahoma.

The top five states overall were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, Utah, Vermont and Minnesota. 

The economic rankings had Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia and Arkansas in the bottom five. North Dakota was in the lead, followed by New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah and Nebraska. 

In education, Georgia was 31st, Tennessee 32nd, Kentucky 33rd and Alabama 34th. The worst five states were New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alaska and Nevada. 

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The top state for education was Massachusetts, trailed by New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida. 

In the bottom five for health ahead of Mississippi were Louisiana, , Arkansas and South Carolina. The best states in this measure were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington and Vermont. 

Just ahead of Mississippi in the bottom five for the family and community category were New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Top states were led by Utah, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho and Maine. 

Nationally, the report authors found the pandemic hit proficiency hard in both math and reading. 

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Only 26% of eighth graders nationally were at or above proficient in math in 2022, worse than 2019 (33%). 

Less than a third of fourth-grade students (32%) reached or were better than proficient in reading, 2 percentage points lower than right before the pandemic.

The report also found that 30% of students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double than before the pandemic. 

Forty percent of students were also found to endured an adverse experience, such as an economic hardship or having their parents divorce, separate or one parent go to prison. 

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The Center Square

Tax revenues $181M above estimate | Mississippi

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-07-09 08:00:00

(The Center Square) – Mississippi tax revenues were $181.7 million above the estimate for fiscal 2024, according to data released by the Department of Revenue.

For June, the same release showed collections were $46.9 million more than the presession estimate at $7.7 . This year's total collections at $7.7 billion were $18.4 million more than last year, an increase of 0.24%.

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The state's new fiscal year started July 1. 

This came despite a nearly 6% decrease in collections of the state's income tax. In fiscal 2023, the state collected $2.39 billion versus $2.25 billion this year, a decrease of $141.8 million. For the month of June, receipts were $6.2 million above the estimate at $206.2 million. 

In 2022, Gov. Tate Reeves signed into an income tax cut that gradually reduces the state's graduated bracket system into a 4% flat tax. 

According to the report, sales tax revenues for fiscal 2024 ($2.82 billion) were nearly 3% more than the year prior ($2.73 billion). In June, sales tax receipts ($244 million) were $2.1 million over the estimate. 

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Collections of the state's corporate income tax were down by 6.7%, shrinking from $1.04 billion to $968 million, a decrease of $69.5 million. Collections in June were $8.6 million at $148.5 million. 

Use tax receipts were up by 4.87%, growing from nearly $389 million in fiscal 2023 to $407.9 million in fiscal 2024. The state's use tax is assessed on all out of state sales, online purchases. June collections added up to $33.8 million, $2.1 million greater than the estimate. 

The state's so-called “sin” taxes on tobacco and alcohol, including revenue from the state's wine and liquor warehouse and distribution system, showed a decrease as well, falling by 1.69%. In fiscal 2023, the state took in $262.1 million to $257.7 million this year, a difference of $4.42 million. 

Revenue from the state's gaming tax was also down by 4.3% for the year to date, falling from $162 million to $155 million, a difference of nearly $7 million. In June, gaming collections were $1.6 million greater than the estimate.

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Oil and gas severance taxes also took a dive, falling by 11.66% from $36.4 million to $32.2 million. 

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The Center Square

Federal judge pauses Biden’s partial liquefied natural gas export ban | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square – 2024-07-01 20:00:00

(The Center Square) – A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration's ban on new exports of liquified natural gas exports to non- trade agreement countries.

Judge James Cain Jr. of the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Energy's partial LNG export ban after more than a dozen states sued, arguing the ban was illegal.

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“It appears that the DOE's decision to halt the permit approval for entities to export LNG to non-FTA countries is completely without reason or logic and is perhaps the epiphany of ideocracy,” Cain wrote in his ruling.

The ban was put in place, according to the Biden administration, because the exports “no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.”

After the Department of Energy announced the ban in January, 16 states filed suit, including Louisiana.

“This is great for Louisiana, our 16 partners in this fight, and the entire country,” Louisiana Liz Murrill said in a statement the judge's decision. “As Judge Cain mentioned in his ruling, there is roughly $61 billion dollars of pending at risk to our state from this illegal pause. LNG has an enormous and positive impact on Louisiana, supplying clean energy for the entire world, and providing good jobs here at home.”

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Louisiana was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, , Utah, Virginia and Wyoming in the

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Gulf states could benefit from bills to provide offshore green energy revenues | Louisiana

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-28 08:19:00

(The Center Square) — Louisiana voters will cast ballots in November to determine whether the will participate in a possible royalty system for offshore renewable energy production, but federal action is required before the money starts to flow. 

Over the past several years, bills have been submitted to allow the alternative energy revenues, such as wind leases, to be sent to the Gulf states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and to fund coastal restoration and resilience projects.

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All of these bills would reform the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act by increasing the revenue-sharing distribution from offshore oil and gas activities from 37.5% to 50% and eliminating the existing state revenue-sharing cap of $375 million for Gulf Coast states.

It's of dire importance to Louisiana as the funds from the BP oil spill settlement, which is the primary source for coastal restoration projects, will out in 2031. The projects are designed to repair and rebuild the state's wetlands which shield from hurricane storm surges and provide important nurseries for marine

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., filed a bill last year called the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies & Ecosystems Act with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. Congressman Steve Scalise, R-La., has a bill called the Budgeting for Renewable Electrical Energy Zone Earnings that he has filed twice in the last two years. U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, has also filed her version of the measure. 

The National Ocean Industries Association is the trade organization for the offshore industry and supports this type of legislation. President Erik Milito told the Center Square that if the bill becomes , Louisiana could see $1.96 billion over the next 10 years if the RISEE Act or other similar legislation becomes law.

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“Well, it should, over time, you're gonna see more revenue flowing to the government from offshore wind power, and if states are able to share in that then it becomes fairly obvious to the local taxpayers and the local constituency that this much money is now coming into our state because of offshore wind,” Milito said. “You haven't needed that in the Northeast Atlantic, Pacific. Those state governments have taken independent action to promote offshore wind because they're more progressive when it to wanting to have you know, climate goals in place. When it comes to the oil and gas sector, you know, the Gulf Coast has been it really for the past several decades.

“And Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama have all been supportive because of the employment base and the investment base that you have along the coastline with hundreds if not thousands of companies contributing to the local economies.”

The bills have bipartisan support, as several environmental groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, the Coastal Conservation Association, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Defense Fund among others have weighed in support for the legislation. 

Voters will decide on Nov. 5 whether to add two amendments to the state constitution governing offshore energy royalty distribution. The two bills authored Rep. Joseph Orgeron, R-Cut Off, were signed into law by Gov. Jeff Landry on June 19. Right now, any offshore wind or other renewable revenues would be split between the state's General Fund (75%) and the remainder with the state's mineral fund

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House Bill 300 would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to redirect federal revenues from “generated from Outer Continental Shelf alternative or renewable energy production sources, wind energy, solar energy, tidal energy, wave energy, geothermal energy, and other alternative or renewable energy production or sources.”

The companion bill, House Bill 305, that would codify the shift of federal royalties to the coastal protection fund from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act program if the measure is passed by voters.

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