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Legislature Extends Session to Work on Budget

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 Mar 2011 05:53pm | comments

The Mississippi legislature has given its self more time to approve the state budget for the next fiscal year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the legislature could vote as soon as Monday on a budget compromise.

The House and Senate approved an extension of the session Thursday in order have a few more days to approve a budget for the fiscal year that starts July first.

Budget negotiators for the House and Senate reached a compromise late Wednesday night on the five-and-a-half billion dollar budget.

House Education Chairman Cecil Brown of Jackson says the budget makes some more cuts without gutting key services.

"We feel pretty good about it. Is it not everything that everybody wants but there is not enough money for everything everybody wants. So it is a good compromise," Brown said.

The compromise keeps MAEP, the state education funding formula, level with this fiscal year but cuts 20-million from other parts of the K-12 budget. It also increases mental health spending in order to keep the community mental health centers open.

Senate Appropriations chairman Doug Davis of Hernando says they will iron out final details in the budget over the weekend.

"I think we are going to take it up on the first part of the week. My goal is Monday. And hopefully, worst case scenario we will finish it up on Tuesday," Davis said.

Ed LeGrand, the executive director of the Department of Mental Health, says this budget will be enough to keep crucial services alive.

"The last thing that we need to do in the state of Mississippi is diminish our capacity to provide services. And particularly it doesn't need to affect community based services," LeGrand said.

The state superintendent of education released a statement Thursday applauding the compromise and the amount of funding public schools will receive.

The end of the session is now set for April 11th. 

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