Mississippi lawmakers, past and present, should be ashamed of the way they have violated what was supposed to be an “inviolate” trust fund. Gov. Haley Barbour and, to a lesser extent, his predecessor Ronnie Musgrove can share some of the shame, too. We are referring to the tobacco suit settlement money won for the state in the late 1990s by then-Attorney General Mike Moore and a cadre of private attorneys led by the now imprisoned Dick Scruggs.
Say what you will about the suit…the settlement brought a windfall to the state.
And the Legislature in 1999 did the right thing by making a commitment to put the money in a trust fund. The principal was supposed to be left alone with the interest to be used as a permanent resource for health care.