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State Lawmakers Approve $5.5 Billion Dollar Budget

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Apr 2011 09:00am | comments

State lawmakers work in Jackson is almost done now that legislators have passed a budget for the next fiscal year that beings July first. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the budget was approved in a marathon voting session Monday afternoon.

That's Lt. Governor Phil Bryant overseeing the budget voting process in the Senate Monday afternoon.

Lawmaker quickly voted their way through dozens of spending bills to fund every thing from education to mental health to prisons.

Most of the bills passed with little discussion as much of the heavy lifting was done by a small group of negotiators.

Senate appropriations chairman Doug Davis of Hernando says lawmakers also had a chance to contemplate the budget over the weekend.

"When I handed out the spread sheet last week, there were four or five changes that were made but nothing huge between Thursday and today. So they had the weekend to process it. and I think everybody was over all satisfied," Davis said.

House appropriations chairman Johnny Stringer of Montrose says he has spent the last 22 living in an R-V in Jackson to finish the budget.

"I am just proud. I think this is probably one of our better budgets. It was tough to finalize in the end but it seems like almost everybody is happy about it," Stringer said.

Lawmakers reached a compromise on the 5-and-a-half billion dollar budget last week after several days of tense negotiation.

Lt. Governor Bryant says the budget helps the state while leaving over 200-million in reserves.

"This budget is one that I think does a lot of good things. Particularly helps fund workforce development. The ten million dollars going to community colleges was something I was very interested it. I think it helps mental health," Bryant said.

Following the budget's passage, lawmakers were friendly and congratulated each other.....when asked how he would celebrate, Senator Davis respond this way.

"Considering I just passed it about five minutes ago, I haven't done anything yet! I think I am going to go home and rest," Davis laughed.

The only remaining item on the agenda for the legislature is redistricting. The session doesn't officially end until Monday, but lawmakers will only work sparingly unless they are called back to vote on a redistricting plan.

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