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Top Issues For The 2014 Legislative Session Come Into Focus

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Dec 2013 05:53pm | comments

Three main issues are coming into focus as Mississippi lawmakers head into next year's legislative session. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports one of last year's biggest fights could be back again.

According to both the Speaker of the House and the Lt. Governor, who runs the Senate, crafting what they consider a 'conservative' budget will be the most important goal.

Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn of Clinton highlights a few key areas of the budget that indicate what three specific priorities that could be key in January.

"Of course there a lot of things included in that like education, roads and prison. We just want to make sure that we get returns on those investments," Gunn said.

A committee is currently working on recommendations the state could pursue to slow its ballooning prison population, and what it costs the state to keep people locked up.

That report is expected this month, and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves expects it to get careful consideration in the legislature.

"The committee is working very closely together making some real progress toward making some recommendations that hopfully a majority of the members can get behind," Reeves said.

Democrats also have their eye on education and transportation spending, but they are hoping to increase spending whereas early Republican budgets hold it flat.

Democratic Representative Cecil Brown of Jackson says Democrats will again push to expand Medicaid to an additional 300-thousand Mississippians.

"As people begin to realize the impact that not accepting Medicaid expansion is going to have on rural hospitals in Mississippi. You are going to see much more support for it. So we are going to continue to education people about that and make it clear that it is in the best interest of the state of Mississippi to try and expand Medicaid," Brown said.

That was rejected by the Republican majority in a special session earlier this year, and both the speaker and Lt. Governor say they remain opposed.




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