Cut to ethics commission an oversight - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Cut to ethics commission an oversight

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Its task is simple, but not always easy, especially when dealing with the financial backing.

"The primary function of our agency is to provide guidance to folks in government who want to comply with the law," said executive director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission Tom Hood. "We guarantee openness and integrity in state and local government and you can't put a price on that."

Lawmakers have to though when putting together a state budget. As it stands now, the Ethics Commission, known for its role in making sure elected leaders are abiding by the ethics law, could get an 18 percent funding cut. That's if the recommendation from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee is adopted.

"It would be devastating. We'd probably have to lay off essential personnel and stop conduction essential functions," said Hood.

As an agency with only seven employees, Hood says he questioned the proposed cut. Fortunately he says, it appears to be an oversight and doesn't expect such a large cut to happen. Currently operating on just more than $650,000, any funding reduction would have impacts.

"We don't ask for more than we need and I expect the legislature will continue what they've done in the recent past and give us what we need to operate," said Hood.

The agency was set up by the legislature back in 1979 after suspected corruption in county level politics. Eight statewide members make up the commission. It's all a part of democracy which Hood says plays a vital role in Mississippi.

"Most people in government want to comply with the law, they just need to know how to comply with the law and what the law is," said Hood.

Copyright 2012 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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