PINE BELT (WDAM) - Last Wednesday, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted 57-56 to withhold proposed tax exemptions to public universities that refuse to fly the State flag. Currently, all eight of Mississippi's public universities have stopped flying the flag.
Republican Rep. William Shirley of Quitman, who wrote the flag amendment, says universities should fly the state symbol, whatever it is, if they take state money.
Members of the House of Representatives would likely be livid if the United States Congress required the state to stop flying the state flag or lose all federal funding.
Between fiscal years 2010 and 2017, state general fund appropriations have increased 17.3 percent. In that same time, state university funding has decreased 4.5 percent and the IHL system general funds decreased 7.1 percent.
Mississippi enjoys colleges and universities with strong positive reputations around the country. Numerous students from many states attend college here due to the excellent reputation held by the universities. Needless to say, such a uniform funding cut as proposed would seriously impact the Pine Belt and our area higher education institutions. These institutions need more funding, not less.
Consider This: In a time of extreme funding shortfalls, holding our universities hostage over a controversial issue is inappropriate.