State Revenue Continues To GrowBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 05 Nov 2013 10:30pm |
State revenues are expected to continue to increase in Mississippi, building on a trend of rising state coffers. However, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the slow rise in state revenue reflects continuing weakness in the state and national economy.
Mississippi legislators are expected to have roughly 5-point-3 billion dollars to spend in the upcoming legislative session, which is nearly a three percent increase over the current year.
Yesterday, The 14-member Joint Legislative Budget adopted projected revenue increases for both the current fiscal year and the year that begins July first.
State economist Derrin Webb says the growth estimate is conservative because the state economy is still very weak.
"We are looking at 2014 employment growth of 1.7%. That seems relatively strong compared to what we have seen over the last 14 years. But historically, over the long term, its relative small. And relative to some of the other states it is relatively small as well," Webb said.
The projection represents a rend of revenues increasing, rather than falling as they did in the middle of the recession.
However, Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn says it is still too soon to declare the recession a thing of the past.
"We may have seen the bottom. We may have stopped going down. But the recovery is going to be a very slow and long process. That is why I think we need to stay conservative in our budgeting," Gunn said.
The state is expected to have 140-million more dollars in the current fiscal year than was expected when the session finished in April.
That money will either roll forward into the next year, or be spent, or saved.
Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, one of three Democrats on the committee, says the increase could be used to fund programs he considers under-funded.
'The main thing that I look at is when we can stabilize funding for education and health care. Those kind of things that some many of our citizens are dependent on," Simmons said.
The estimate adopted by the budget committee sets the baseline that lawmakers will work from when they return to Jackson in January.
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