Gov. Haley Barbour has done the right thing and acknowledged that he was mistaken when he lashed out against a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama that will provide as much as $250 million to Mississippi schools.
Barbour got a lot of national publicity by saying that the state would have to “change already-adopted budgets to meet the desires of the far left.”
What seemed at the time to be a ridiculous position turned out to be just that. Barbour admitted last week that Mississippi will not be required to come up with any money to get the federal aid that will help save teacher jobs in our state.
While Barbour was retreating in the face of facts, fellow Republican Alan Nunnelee, who is running for Congress from our district, was busy making his mistake worse.
Nunnelee, in a speech in Tupelo, said he was still against the bill because the school year already has started, schools are operating and therefore, the districts didn’t need the money. He called the bill “a publicity stunt” and said it would “saddle children” with massive debt.
The bill, supported by his opponent, U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, actually is paid for by changes in federal law, including eliminating a tax break for companies that send American jobs overseas.
We don’t understand what has happened to Mr. Nunnelee. At one time he was considered a reasonably progressive voice for education in Mississippi.
Running an anti-Washington campaign is in vogue, but it’s a difficult stance in Mississippi, which has benefited from a huge influx of federal money to survive natural disasters and the economic downturn.