Top Republicans push child support privatization

February 13, 2013 8:07:52 AM

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JACKSON -- Two prominent Republicans, including a nephew of former Gov. Haley Barbour, are lobbying for bills that would let the Mississippi Department of Human Services hire private companies to collect overdue child support payments. 

 

Democratic lawmakers say the bills seem geared to put private firms on track to make big money by performing government services. 

 

"It's a greased pig already. Somebody up on high already knows who's going to get this contract," state Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said during debate Tuesday. 

 

No company's name was mentioned during the House debate or a Senate debate last week. But, Sen. Nancy Adams Collins, R-Tupelo, said in an interview that when she explained a bill to the Senate, she used information provided by lobbyists Austin Barbour and Arnie Hederman, including statistics about the number of child support cases in the state, about 435,000, and the amount of overdue money, about $1.1 billion. 

 

Barbour said he and Hederman are lobbying on behalf of their client, YoungWilliams Child Support Services, a Jackson-based company that already runs a DHS call center in Yazoo County. YoungWilliams says on its website that it has 36 offices in 11 states, including three in Mississippi.