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Early Budget Process Moving Quickly

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Mar 2012 05:30pm | comments
Senator Willie Simmons reviews budget bills.

The Mississippi House of Representatives is moving their version a state budget while the Senate prepares vote on how they think the state should spend its money. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

Lawmakers are trying a new approach to craft a state budget this year ahead of a deadline next week.

Each chamber is producing its own budget from scratch rather than starting with the recommendation of the joint legislative budget committee.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says this year the Senate is attempting what he calls a "full budget approach".

"We believe that this method provides the most transparency for tax payers. It also provides the most opportunity for members  of the Senate who want to be included in the process, they will have the entire budget laid out before them," Reeves said.

Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland is one of 12 Democrats on the 26 member Appropriations committee.

He believes that starting with a fresh version of the budget has given the senate a jump start.

"We are in a position where we could raise the estimate and look at moving funds around and go ahead and make some tough decision. Decision we normally don't make until the end of the year," Simmons said.

The House has already taken floor votes on parts of its budget, sending those portions to the state senate.

Debate grew contentious at times as Representatives adjusted to new rules requiring any increase in spending to be matched by a decrease in spending from some other state department.

Representative Cecile Brown of Jackson argued that it restricted debate while defending an amendment concerning Medicaid he attempted to attach to an education bill.

"Somebody came up with the cockamamie idea of taking money from one place and putting it in another place. It wouldn't let us take the money that is left in the general fund. That is the only reason this is here. And we argued this at time. If you are going to offer the amendment you are going to have to take it from somewhere else and it makes absolutely no sense. But it is where we are," Brown said.

Law makers are somewhat ahead of schedule in the budgeting process...The deadline to move a budget out of each chamber isn't until the end of next week.

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Senator Willie Simmons reviews budget bills.


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