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Mississippi Lawmakers Finish The State Budget

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Apr 2012 11:55pm | comments

The deadline for Mississippi lawmakers to craft a new budget is today. But, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, legislators are already finished since they worked through the weekend to approve a budget for the fiscal year that begins July First.

Legislators waded through more than one-hundred budget bills over the weekend to passed a 5-and-a-half billion dollar state budget.

While most agencies will still level or take a budget cut, high profile departments like K-12 education, community colleges, and medicaid will see slight increases.

Senate Appropriations chairman Buck Clarke of Hollandale says the slow improvement in the economy helped ease the process this year and allowed him to look forward into coming years.

"2014 worries me as much as the current budget we are working on. We can't be assured that there is great growth out there and using the one-time money we are, we are using some that will not be there next year. Like the health care trust fund. That tobacco money? that's gone now," Clarke said.

Reducing the amount of one-time money...like the tobacco fund...the state uses is to fill out the budget is one of three goals house appropriations chairman Herb Frierson of Poplarville wrote on a chalk board in his office.

"That was our goals on the board. make the hard decisions now. push 200-million forward. Reduce and eliminate dependency on one-time money. Now we didn't eliminate but we reduced. That was mine and Speaker Gunn's goals from the beginning. And we felt like we did pretty good on achieving them," Frierson said.

Even democrats have been complimentary of the final budget.

Representative Steve Holland of Plantersville says the two republican chairmen handled the slow increase in revenue well.

"When we are as deep in the hole as we are. When MAEP is still under-funded by over 200-million dollars and there are other gaping holes in the budget, you spend that money. Chairman Frierson has done a good job of putting the money out there and keeping as many budgets as he could near total level of last year. That is a victory," Holland said.

This week could be the last week of the legislative session, with lawmakers trying to finish their work and leave Jackson without extending the session.

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