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Gov. Barbour Offers Budget and 634-Million in Cuts

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Nov 2010 01:25pm | comments
Governor Barbour offers his budget in Jackson.

Heads of Mississippi state agencies are already pushing back against the budget cuts proposed by Governor Haley Barbour. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that agency heads wonder if they will be able to make another round of cuts.

At press conference in Jackson on Monday, Governor Haley Barbour offered a series of budget cuts to cover a 634-million dollar shortfall in the 2012 budget.

He wants the legislature to freeze Mississippi Adequate Education Program spending and automatic teacher pay raises and recommended a 2% cut in what the state spends on higher education and ending funding of community college athletics all together.

“About three million dollars is spent that way. If community colleges have athletics, it ought to be funded by local funding if the local governments want to do it and by student fees which ought to be voluntary,” Barbour explained.

Head of Community Colleges Eric Clark argues any cuts are not fair because community colleges are helping lead the state out of the recession.

“Enrollment at the community colleges is going through the roof. In a recession, when people lose a job or are afraid of losing a job they come back to a community college to get job skills,” Clark said.

Barbour is also counting on an 8-percent reduction by government agencies, a move that worries Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steven Simpson.

“It’s difficult to know how we will manage those kinds of cuts right now. I am hoping that the budget revenue will not fall off, that it will stay steady and we won't endure any kind of cuts this year,” Simpson said.

He thinks they will have to increase fees for services they provide like drivers licenses, gun permits, and accident reports if the cuts go through.

Some agencies are being asked to give back even more; Barbour wants the Library Commission, Arts Commission and Mississippi Public Broadcasting to shed 20-percent of their budgets.

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Governor Barbour offers his budget in Jackson.


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