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State Increases Budget Estimate

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Mar 2011 05:33pm | comments
Lt. Governor Phil Bryant and House Speaker Billy McCoy listen to revised budget estimates.

Mississippi could be coming out of the Recession more quickly than first thought. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that state budget writers have revised the state's spending plans slightly upward for this year and next.

Mississippi's state Economist Darrin Webb went before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Tuesday morning to slightly bump up the estimate for how much revenue the state will bring in.

"It is very evident to us that consumers are again spending. They are not spending at pre-recession levels, but they are spending. And also we recognize that inflation is up. And with inflation comes increased sales tax revenues," Webb said.

The new estimate adds an addition 6-million to this year's budget and 14-million to the fiscal year 2012 budget. The budgets for each year are just over 4-and-a-half billion dollars.

Webb says unemployment remains very high but more people are going back to work and spending more money.

"The economy is growing. I think the caution thing, we need to say, is that it is growing at a very slow pace," Webb said.

Those projections don't calm the fears of the Senate's appropriations chairman Doug Davis of Hernando.

Davis urges greater caution and says he doesn't see the signs of significant recovery.

"We are coming out of February that was down 2.4% or 5 million dollars. Our unemployment is 10.7% and the numbers and the goals that they have set are pretty high," Davis said.

The committee approved the adjusted numbers Tuesday morning. This is important because it determines how much state lawmakers have to spend when the craft the budget.

Representative Cecil Brown of Jackson says the extra cash, if collected, gives the state a slight budgeting cushion.

"What would happen right now is it just makes more money available this year in case we have some deficits. In case we have some programs that need additional money during the current year, we now have a source of revenue to fund that," Brown said.

After the committee vote, Governor Haley Barbour released a statement opposing the adjusted estimate and cautioning against what he calls "imagined revenue". 

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Lt. Governor Phil Bryant and House Speaker Billy McCoy listen to revised budget estimates.


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