Senate bill seeks to cut state agency advertising - - Jackson, MS

Senate bill seeks to cut state agency advertising

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

When state agencies want to showcase or bring awareness to a program in the future, word of mouth may be just about the only advertising they can do.

That's if Senate Bill 2736 becomes law.

It looks to pull the plug on all state agencies' ability to advertise.  

"Millions and millions of taxpayers' dollars are going for a whole bunch of bogus programs that are advertised all over the state and we're going to put a stop to it," said Merle Flowers, the Republican senator who wrote the bill.

Flowers says much of that money spent is in radio.

The bill which would prevent state agencies from using radio and television advertising to promote agency programs.

The bill does not include newspapers and there would be some exclusions like public service announcements required by the federal government.

If state agencies must use state dollars to advertise, then a bidding process would be required.

That would also be the case for advertising with federal money.  

"If you are going to have advertising we want it to be very competitive," Sen. Flowers said. "We want to make sure that you have a bidding process and we have open contracts for the whole world to see."

"We don't want to stop that but we just want to make sure that we get the best bang for the buck on it," said Sen. Terry Brown, President pro-tem and co-author of the bill.

Brown says it's simply a way to save money and become more transparent.  

"We're responsible for the taxpayers' dollars and it's our responsibility to make sure they're spent efficiently and in the right areas and this is just part of that," Sen. Brown said.

Brown says on many occasions the state has thrown money into advertising public notices where federal dollars should have been used instead.  

"Anything that we can save a dollar on in this state, it has to be beneficial," Sen. Brown said.

Not everyone is on board with the bill, critics say statewide campaigns like public health, are too important not to be done through television and radio.

The bill has been brought up several times in the past but never made it very far.

This time with the newly created Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Senate Committee, the bill is getting more life.  

"If the state is going to be spending money, we need to know how they're spending it," Sen. Flowers said. "The public has a right to require their government to get the best deal possible."

The bill already made it out of committee and now awaits debate on the senate floor.

Sen. Brown brown expects it to pass there as well.

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