Democrats will hear from economic specialist, MDOT director

The cover of the JustSouth Index 2016.
The cover of the JustSouth Index 2016. Screenshot

The Joint Mississippi Democratic Caucus will hear from the author of a scathing report on the state next week in Jackson.

Jeanie Donovan, an economic policy specialist at Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute in New Orleans, will be one of two guest presenters at the Oct. 12 meeting at 11 a.m. in Room 113 of the State Capitol, according to a caucus press release.

Donovan was lead investigator for the JustSouth Index, a social indicators project that measured levels of social justice in the Gulf South states using quantitative indicators related to income, health and education.

“There are, in effect, two school systems in Mississippi: underfunded public schools for the poor and private schools for the wealthy,” the JustSouth Index found. “Mississippi children attending private schools typically come from households with considerably more wealth than the households of children attending public schools, their households in 2015 earning on average 185 percent more income than those of children attending public schools.”

Before working at Loyola, Donovan served as an aide in the Texas Legislature, advising on issues related to public education, nutrition, agriculture, and water policy.

The other speaker will be Melinda McGrath, the first female executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, a position she has held since 2011.

She is a member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Standing Committee and its Highway Traffic Safety Subcommittee on Highways; the Construction Material Industries Advisory Board for MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering; the Mississippi Road Builders’ Association; the Southeastern Pavement Preservation Partnership; the Mississippi Asphalt Pavement Association; and the Mississippi Engineering Society.