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Mississippi’s Tax Revenue Exceeds Expectations

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 25 Mar 2014 03:52pm | comments

Mississippi lawmakers have more money to work with as the deadline to craft a state budget quickly approaches. But, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, leading law makers are warning advocates and state agencies not to get too excited about the growing state coffers.

The newest estimates predict that the state will have 150-million dollars more than expected for the current fiscal year, and 98-million for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July first.

That would bring state revenue to roughly 5-and-a-half billion dollars.

Senior State economist Bob Neal told the 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Committee that a big reason for the increase is steady economic growth.

"Although the economy has slowed in recent months. The outlook for an improving economy remains. Much of the recent slowdown can be traced to the harsh winter and is viewed as a temporary pause in a gradually improving economy," Neal said.

However, both speaker of the House Phillip Gunn and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves are warning not to expect big increases in spending.

Reeves says their first priority is eliminating the use of one-time money for yearly expenses.

"We inherited a budget just three years ago that spent 460-million dollars in one time money for recurring expenses. We can get that number of zero this year," Reeves told the committee.

However, both men say that they still have some spending goals such as a teacher pay raise and training for more state troopers.

Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, one of a handful of Democrats on the committee, is still hopeful that the steadily growing revenue can be spent to help the state.

"They indicated they wanted to be conservative. They didn't say they did want to spend any of it. But if you raise the budget by another 100-million dollars as we did today, there are some thing we can look at," Simmons said.

In the last three years, state revenue has increased by nearly 350-million dollars.

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