State burn center needed, but funding talks also warranted

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 2, 2007

We hope the tomato plants will grow to be healthy andproductive.

The annual Mississippi State University gifts on statelawmakers’ desks Friday signaled the end of this year’s legislativesession. After some unfruitful pre-session discussions that yieldedno budget blueprint, lawmakers tilled away and managed to produce a$5 billion spending plan that fully funds education and addresses anumber of other state needs.

In the session’s closing days, however, some lawmakersapparently felt the time was ripe to bring up some well-intentionedbut also emotional issues that in actuality needed more study.

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Most recently was a proposal from Rep. Steve Holland for anin-state burn center. Lawmakers earlier authorized creation of thecenter but found no way to fund the estimated $10 millionfacility.

After the House approved the budget plan Thursday, Holland heldthe bills for more debate in hopes of getting funding for the burncenter.

On Friday, the lawmaker gave up his fight this year, adding thathe would pray for bill opponents and any Mississippian who may haveto go out of state for burn treatment. How touching on Holland’spart.

We support having an in-state burn center, but trying to forcedebate on the issue while holding up other budget matters in thewaning days of a legislative session is not the way to bring afacility to reality. Where was Holland and his heartstring-tuggingduring the first 80-something days of the session?

Like those tomato plants on the lawmakers’ desks, support forcostly proposals like burn centers needs to be cultivated. Inbetween campaigning for re-election this summer, we hope Hollandand other burn center supporters will work harder to buildconsensus on a way to fund the much-needed facility.

By laying that groundwork and with timely discussion during the2008 session, hopefully the burn center will not be allowed to dieon the vine again next year.