JACKSON, Miss. – A website was launched by House Representative Joel Bomgar to review why Mississippi is ranked 50th on per-capita income, and how the state can change that.
The website and movement is called “Out of Last Place.” Bomgar said he got the idea after he heard people complaining about the ranking.
“People had been talking about Mississippi and how we ranked compare to other states and how we can change that and I had started talking to a lot of different people and realized no one had actually done that work to try and figure out what that meant and how we change it,” said Bomgar.
Currently Mississippi is ranked at number 50 just below West Virginia at #49. Bomgar said in order to “catch” or “surpass” West Virginia in that ranking the state would have to find a way to put $4.8 billion dollars more in the pockets of Mississippians.
So, how did it get so bad?
Bomgar called attention to state policies, citing that many people and families are heavily influenced by government policies in how they make money, or bring in an income.
“All human beings respond to incentives,” said Bomgar,”Government programs created incentives to where people don’t want to work, or get a job. Or we have put a lot of barriers in their way that keep them from getting a job.”
Bomgar said that this can make it hard for individuals to find motivation to find work. Some of these policies are outdated and can be done away with, but so often times they are phased out too quickly and don’t allow time for other income to be acquired.
“Mississippi has an incredible number of people on disability, but still work in the cash economy running businesses out of their house, we have to find a way to fix some of those incentives.”
Bomgar said there is a huge poverty trap that says if you make above a certain amount you must make much much more than that in order to actually make more money that what would be given relying on government programs.
“When you have all these systems set up to discourage people to make more money you’re just not going to get out of that trap,” said Bomgar.
The movement is determined to identify the problem, why Mississippi hasn’t gotten out of last place, and what concrete steps the state can follow in order to rectify this problem.