State Budget Estimates Increased AgainBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Mar 2012 03:32pm |
Mississippi lawmakers will have a little more money to spend this legislative session than was estimated at the end of last year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports this is a result of a gradual improvement in the health of the Mississippi economy.
Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee approved a 100-million dollar increase for the current fiscal year budget. As well asa 128-million dollar increase for the fiscal year that begins July first....which is the budget law makers are currentlycrafting.
At the capitol Tuesday morning, State Economist Darrin Webb gave an update on the direction of the economy.
Webb told the committee that the economy is slowly recovering but that growth remains very low.
"While we have avoided a recession and the outlook has improved, the economy remains weak by historical standards and significant risks remain," Webb said.
Webb also warned about Mississippi's chronically high unemployment rate...The state has lost jobs four years in a row.
That is the first time that has happened since Mississippi began tracking employment figures in 1939.
A group of House and Senate Democrats used the news of more revenue to call for an increase in state spending on education.
"We are here to say enough is enough,"
Senator Hob Bryan of Amory says the increase means that Mississippi should spend more money on education at all levels.
"It hasn't been that long ago that we were all out on the campaign trial. And I don't remember Governor (Phil) Bryant and the republicans saying 'Vote for me so I can come down here to Jackson and cut education even deeper'," Bryan said.
the decision on how much the state spends on education will largely fall to Republicans who now have majorities in both chambers.
Legislative Budget Committee member and House Education Committee Chairman John Moore of Brandon says the amount the state spends on education is simply a matter of dollars and cents.
"I didn't hear anything said about 250-to-300-million dollars of new money in what he was just proposing. It is just not there. I would love to say 'yes, it is there and we are going to fight for every dime of it'. Its just not there," Moore said.
The new estimate means law makers will have just over 4-point-7 billion dollars to spend this year...the first deadline for budget bills is next week.
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