After passing the House and the Senate unanimously, and after Sen. John Horhn told the press he expected him to sign it, Gov. Tate Reeves has vetoed SB 2856, a bill that would have helped provide relief to the city of Jackson's water customers.
The governor posted his reasoning for the veto on social media. A copy of his statement is posted below:
"For the last week or so, I've spent countless hours reviewing hundreds of bills from the legislature. It's the last step in the process before a bill becomes a law—the governor has to sign or veto. I wanted to take the time to get it right and study each. We vetoed one bill that would have allowed ballots for voting to be filled out with a pencil that can be erased—potentially allowing voter fraud. Tonight, I had to veto another.
"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. 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.
"For years, Mississippi had a problem with politicians giving taxpayer-funded services away as political gifts. We had to pass a law to stop it. "No free service shall be furnished by any [government] system to any private person, firm, corporation, or association." This goes against that law.
"There’s no end date. Even if you trust the politicians in charge there now, do you trust the rest of them forever? This bill would give them that power.
"And even if there was no opportunity for corruption, I reject this idea that the government can act like free money is floating around to pay for all these things. It has to get made up somehow. It's usually with higher taxes on you. Others seem to have forgotten that, but I'm very concerned about the "free money" concept that has taken over politics today.
"The City of Jackson has serious troubles with their water system. People got overcharged in the past. There might be a way to fix it. There's nothing against the law about creating payment plans right now. There might be another bill that would help. This isn't it. 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.
"Other cities have issues too, why should only Jackson get a carve-out? There are needy Mississippians who would rather not pay their bills all over.
"Frankly, I don't think this action will be popular. This passed unanimously in both chambers. They might override me. I just can't sign this bill, and I wanted to be upfront with all of you about my decision."
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has declined to comment at this time.