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Advocates Rally Against Budget Cuts

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Mar 2011 04:58pm | comments

Hundreds of Mississippi residents from all over the state rally in opposition to proposed budget cuts.
State lawmakers are still working on the details of a state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

Around 500 advocates crowded the Capitol Tuesday morning to show support for Education, mental health, libraries and other state services.

Sam Bounds the executive director of Mississippi Association of School Superintendents says lawmakers need to resist the urge to cut any more money from the state's education system.

"We hope that the House and the Senate does the wills of their chambers. And the will of the chambers is to pass level funding. So we hope that that is done, the conferees pass it and then we give it to our Governor and see if he does what is right for our kids," Bounds said.

Budget writers from the democratic controlled house and republican controlled Senate are at odds over how much to spend in the budget and how much to leave in reserves.

Amanda Clement says she had a mental break down 10 years ago and has relied on the state's Mental health system to keep her healthy.

"If the Governor makes these cuts, then there is going to be a lot of people who fall through the cracks and actually die by suicide or by lack of treatment for their mental illness," Clement said.

Earlier this week, Governor Haley Barbour released a revised executive budget recommendation that called for less spending on education, mental health, libraries and other programs but raised the total budget projection by 45 million dollars.

Sharman Smith, the executive of the Mississippi Library Commission, says those cuts could have drastic consequences.

"What would happen is that there are a number of libraries that wouldn't be able to pay their staffs. Libraries wouldn't be able to buy materials. In some cases, they will shorten hours or even have to close libraries because they don't have the staffing to run them," Smith said.

State law makers missed the last Saturday deadline to have a budget outline prepared...it is not clear when they will finish.

The session is scheduled to end this weekend but it will have to be extended or there could be a special session in order finish the budget because the Mississippi constitution prevents taking up money bills in the final five days of the session. 

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