The non-partisan Pew Charitable Trust says Mississippi lawmakers could be doing more to prepare for the next economic downturn.
In 2007-08, Mississippi quickly exhausted its reserves in the wake of the economic collapse.
Prew's Brenan Erford says now that revenues are growing, lawmakers to reassess how much they are saving.
"When they are made during times of growth, when the money is on the table, can be used to midigate really tough decision made during recession. And it can help make state budgets more predictable throughout the business cycle," Erford said.
Mississippi is one of 38 states with a statutory requirement to put money in reserve.
But Erford says lawmakers should go further and craft a savings system that adjusts to changing economic growth, rather than a one-size fits all approach.
"The volatility that Mississippi encounters in its revenue from year to year is very much a challenge that policy makers would be wise to plan for," Erford added.
But saving is easier said than done, with Democrats saying now is the time to spend to recover from the cuts the Great Recession triggered in everything from education to state employee wages.
Leading Republicans, including House appropriations chairman Herb Frierson of Poplarville, trumpet the hundreds of millions in reserve as a sign of fiscal responsibility that improves the state's economic standing.
"I know a lot of people criticize us for not spending that money. If we spent it on reoccurring costs, than the rating agencies would just be going crazy," Frierson said.
But movement is underway that could force the legislature's hand.
Advocates for more public school funding are pushing a ballot initiative to require lawmakers to fully fund the state's education funding formula known as MAEP.
And school districts around the state are considering a lawsuit after years of underfunding.