By Maya Srikrishnan and Melissa Hellmann, The Center for Public Integrity
Amia Edwards lives in Jackson, Miss. because she wants to make a difference. But in this majority-Black city, long starved for funding by the state’s mostly White legislature, that’s proved a steep challenge.
The city’s recent water crisis came after years of chronic underfunding of Jackson’s aging water infrastructure. The stench lingers in Edwards’ front yard after raw sewage flooded her home twice — neither the city nor the state agreeing to help. Abandoned homes blemish her south Jackson neighborhood as residents fled for better-funded communities. And at her nonprofit that prepares Jackson youth for performing-arts careers, she sees the results of cash-strapped schools when her kids struggle to read scripts and rap lyrics.
Jackson resident Amia Edwards hasn’t been able to get government assistance for sewage problems in front of her home. (Photo courtesy of Center for Public Integrity / Maya Srikrishnan)
Then Mississippi further sliced into its revenue to fund such needs by cutting income taxes in a way that mostly benefits its wealthiest — largely White — residents.
It’s one of at least 19 legislatures that seized the opportunity to do so in the midst of...