Mississippi lawmakers are looking at another year of slow economic growth as they begin shaping the state's budget for fiscal year 2017.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is meeting with department heads and agency directors in Jackson, this week, for the first round of budget discussions.
State agencies are required by law to submit detailed written requests for funding on an annual basis, and this year many of those agencies are requesting a significant increase over last year's budget.
However, state economist Darrin Webb says the current economic outlook may not be able to accommodate all of those requests. He says the economy is improving but at a historically slow pace.
"Sometimes we see measures, and it looks like everything is going really good, and I think the one thing that I wanted them to understand is that while we're seeing a little bit better growth than we're seeing last year, we're still growing at a slow pace," says Webb. "In fact, we're growing slow relative not only to ourselves historically and to other states. I think that people have to be aware of that."
Overall, Webb estimates the state economy is growing at a rate of about one-point-seven percent this year, and two-point-two percent next year. That news has budget writers like Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves feeling optimistic but cautious.
"I'm encouraged by that, but I also have to be cognizant of the fact that we're not going to see four and five and six percent growth where we see tremendous revenue growth which would lead to fulfilling all of the budget request that have been asked for today." Reeves says.
Lawmakers hope to release their recommended budget by December.