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Appropriations Chairman: State Nearing Saving Limit

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 05 Feb 2014 03:16pm | comments
Herb Frierson

Mississippi's finances have improved so much that the state could be near the limit for how much it can save. That's according to the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committee. As MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports a new problem facing the chairmen is what to do with growing revenue.

Ever since the recession, Mississippi has been dealing with falling budgets or trying to recover from the impact of falling revenue.

But House appropriations chairman Herb Frierson says the state is now standing in the light at the end of the tunnel and is ready to step out.

Frierson says revenues have improved by an unexpected amount and has nearly filled the state's various cash reserves.

"Put all three of those together and you would be at your statutory limit on the working cash stabilization fund," Frierson said.

Frierson estimates that the state will have somewhere around 500-million in left over cash on hand.

He spoke along side Senate Appropriations chairman Buck Clarke of Hollandale.

Clarke says the upcoming battles over how to spend the money will make the fights over cuts look easy by comparison.

"We have a little extra money. Because of people like you we don't have a boring budget. Because the taxpayers are generating more revenue then we or economist predicted," Clarke said.

The Chairmen, who are both Republican, are urging caution when considering how or if to spend the money.

But many activists and other lawmakers are eyeing the cash and claiming spending it could help the state.

Democratic Senator Hillman Fraiser of Jackson says spending the money could be used to plug immediate or short term needs around the state.

"Because we have many needs in this state that we have to address. And that one time money can help us address some fo those needs. We some expenditures on our university campuses that need address. We can spend some of that money on those campuses because their priorities will require one-time expenses," Hillmans said.

Writing a budget for the state is among the last items that lawmakers handle in the session.

The process likely won't be finished until April.

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Herb Frierson


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