Gov. Barbour Says Education Reserves Should Fill State Funding GapsBy Rhonda Miller | Published 16 Dec 2011 12:43am |
Governor Haley Barbour wrapped up a series of speeches around the state with his perspective on budget issues at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Thursday. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more.
Governor Haley Barbour told an audience of about 50 Gulf Coast business and municipal leaders that the first step in budgeting is to make the process transparent.
"We’re trying to do everything we can do in Mississippi to create jobs," said Barbour. "But one of the things we know we’ve got to do is control our spending. We've got to keep our taxes down, live within our means and not run up deficits and debt."
Barbour said state’s reserve funds have dwindled and should not be expected to cover a number of programs, especially education."It is critically important, as the state climbs out of this fiscal hole, that the reserves of the colleges, the community colleges and the public schools be part of getting us back in shape. Their reserves have grown and grown and grown and now it’s time for them to pay in their share."
Another budget item generating controversy is the Public Employees Retirement System. Barbour said that must be dealt with.
"There is no risk it won’t be able to pay its bills next year or in the next few years," said Barbour. "But is badly underwater, badly underfunded and that gets worse every year."
Despite Mississippi’s financial troubles, Barbour remains popular among business leaders. Ed Day is CEO of Mississippi Power.
"The biggest thing that he talked about was keeping expenses low on existing businesses and on small and large businesses, so that they could take that money then, and reinvest it into those businesses and create job growth, " said Day.
Next week, Barbour will offer his proposed budget for the new fiscal year.
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