Jeff Smith, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in Mississippi’s House of Representatives, may get a slap on the wrist from his party’s leadership for saying it, but he confirmed what Capitol observers know to be true.

When the Legislature, in an election year, goes on a borrowing binge to fund special projects, the ones that get awarded often have more to do with politics than they do with merit.

“They were trying to help some of the members that are going to have tough races,” said Smith when asked to respond to complaints from Democratic lawmakers that most of the pet projects that got a slice of the $360 million are in Republican-held districts.

You could write this off as just the way politics works, and that Democrats did the same thing when they controlled state government.

Remember, however, the Republicans said they would change all that, that they would bring fiscal discipline to the Capitol and represent the interests of the taxpayer, not themselves.

Some things just don’t change.

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