Former professional football player Bret Favre teamed up with Republican state politicians to divert up to $5 million from Mississippi’s Department of Human Services to build of all things a volleyball facility for students at Favre’s alma mater, University of Southern Mississippi. Favre’s daughter attends the school and he was collecting money to build the facility for a sport she was interested in and participating in at the time. Ironic, though Favre starred there as a quarterback for the football team he was fundraising for the volleyball team.
What’s egregious about this all is the money state officials schemed and stole from state coffers was from Temporary Assistance For Needy Families a federally funded program to help poor families in need. If there’s any doubt that poor Mississippians are poor and in need one should only look at statistics for poverty in Mississippi.
The highest poverty rate in the country is in Mississippi, where 19.6% of the population lives in poverty. However, this has improved from 2012, when the state’s poverty rate was nearly 25%. Mississippi has the lowest median household income of any state of $45,792. Mississippi’s educational attainment levels are among the lowest in the U.S., with about 84.5% of adults graduating high school and 22% of adults having at least a Bachelor’s degree.2019 Poverty Rate in the United States
State officials redirected money from the federal government by rejecting nearly 99% of poor welfare applicants in 2016 and moving those funds to MCEC , Mississippi Community Education Center a non profit which controlled millions in state welfare funds, which then applied the money to projects favored by wealthy and powerful individuals. Thus the poor people of Mississippi became even poorer while the rich took the money earmarked for those most in need to use for items not of necessity but for entertainment and personal enrichment. Not that there is any doubt about this being illegal as well as immoral. Those responsible for the misappropriation of the money, except for Favre, have been disciplined by the court system in Mississippi or fired after investigations but the damage was done and it speaks to a systemic abuse of power and money by state officials.
Earlier this year the city of Jackson and the capital of the state was faced with a crisis in the making for almost a century after flooding exacerbated the water supply and state official claimed there was no safe drinking water available. It’s not like this wasn’t forecast. Since 1922 officials in the state have warned the water supply for the city of Jackson was in peril if the infrastructure that supplied water wasn’t upgraded or improved and money has been “spent” to fix this problem but because of the systemic abuse of state officials to handle money one has to wonder whether that money was really used for what it was intended. For example, an ill-fated water contract with Siemens Inc. originally billed as a way to streamline billing and save money for the city over time, had faulty meters send erroneous bills to customers, if a bill was generated at all.
What Mississippi has to own up to is the fact it has elected officials who have no problem using tax payer money for things they want for themselves while denying services to targeted members of Mississippi based on race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. The poverty rate in Jackson is over 24% yet in the 21st century it still has an infrastructure that delivers water to its citizens that has been complained about since 1922. There’s no one to blame but the officials of the state. Bret Favre was not an outlier he was business as usual.