Some of Mississippi's top lawmakers say they expect to see very modest growth in state spending during the coming year. But lawmakers from different sides of the aisle have different priorities on how to spend the new money.
Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee have approved a revised revenue estimate that predicts that the state will bring in about six-billion dollars over the 2016 fiscal year. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says the increase amounts to a three percent growth in tax revenue.
"There's approximately $150 million roughly of expected revenue growth that will go into next year's budget that the legislature will have the opportunity to spend or return some of it to the taxpayers," says Reeves.
Senator Buck Clark -- a Republican from Hollandale -- is chair of his chambers Appropriations Committee. He believes lawmakers will want be to continue to pay off some of the debts and commitments the state has made over the past few years.
"The top priority will first be paying that teacher pay raise," Clarke says. "We know we committed to that. Then there will be some other things. You got to pay your debts; we'll have to get that figure. We'll just take this recommendation and go across the street, and starting January, We'll hash it out item by item."
Democratic Representative Angela Cockerham of Magnolia says lawmakers should concentrate on closing the deficits in some of the state's largest agencies.
"Education, because there is always a concern about funding for MAEP," says Cockerham. "Corrections and Medicaid, just because those are always two budgetary areas that have deficits. Transportation, just because we have a concern to make sure our infrastructures are properly maintained."
The members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee will use the rest of the week finalizing their spending proposal for fiscal year 2016. It will then be considered during the legislative session that begins in early January, with a deadline to adopt the proposed budget in April.