The Mississippi Joint Legislative budget committee is recommending a 5-point-8-billion dollar budget for the next fiscal year. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the recommendation has some similarities but also some key differences with a budget proposal recently released by Governor Phil Bryant.
The 14-member legislative Committee is recommending a budget that would zero out one time money for recurring expenses, set aside cash for state building repair, and eliminate nearly 23-hundred unfilled state jobs.
The budget is less than a point-six percent increase from the current year.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says the committee is also recommending saving a portion of the money as well.
"Almost 550-million dollars of reserves which can lead to a number of different possiblities. Obviously we could fund deficits if that is necessary. In addition to that we could also out the money and fill up our rainy-day fund. Which we should do giving our increase in revenue. Or we could also set it aside," Reeves said.
This proposal, much like Governor Phil Bryant's, recommends level funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program which would leave the formula over 300-million dollars under-funded.
Nancy Loome with The Parents Campaign says another year of failing to fund the formula for K-12 education is showing that promises from both Democrats and Republicans are empty.
"I think it is pretty empty. Until they decide to make good on that promise, we will believe it when we see it," Loome said.
Both the Governor's budget and the JLBC budget put additional money into health care spending to account for not expanding Medicaid.
The Governor wants to offer 4-million dollars to hospitals while the committee is suggesting giving 30-million more to state agencies that deal with health care.
Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, one of three Democrats on the Committee, supports the budget recommendation but wonders about the wisdom continuing to reject Medicaid expansion.
"It may be that it is best for us to expand the program, serve the additional 300-thousand citizens and pay the additional money while getting some services from it. Right now, we will be investing money to maintain those hospitals but we are not benefiting from the other aspects of the Affordable Health Care Program," Simmons said.
The committee is also recommending an increase for Mississippi university and community colleges.