Governor Phil Bryant is slashing nearly $40 million from the state’s $6.2 billion budget. The cuts are part of an effort to fix a $75 million dollar deficit in state revenues.
Letters have been sent to state agency directors telling them to begin slashing budgets. The order was issued by Governor Phil Bryant’s office yesterday afternoon. In all, 84 state programs and special funds are to be cut up to 1.5 percent. In addition, Bryant is dipping into the state’s rainy day fund, taking about $35 million.
He says total collection through December was about $54 million below revenue expectations. The Governor says he’s required by law to impose budget cuts when revenue collections do not meet estimates.
The cuts encompass nearly every aspect of state government, affecting everything from public education to public health to the department of transportation. However, come agencies and programs have been exempt from the cuts. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the Department of Public Safety, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs are among those safe from the chopping block.
Republican Representative Herb Frierson of Poplarville is the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He says budget cuts are a tough call to make.
“The best way I can say it [is] it’s not a disaster, but it is certainly an uncomfortable position to be in because we’re going to have to contract some,” Frierson says. “We got to pick winners and losers just like the Governor did, based on priorities, and we’ll do the same thing in [fiscal year] 17.”
This is the first time Bryant has made cuts to the state budget since he took office in 2012.