The end of the 2016 fiscal year is only a few weeks away, but the threat of budget cuts still loom.
Tax collections are not what lawmakers expected when they crafted a state budget for fiscal year 2016. The most recent figures from the Mississippi Department of Revenue were more than 100 million dollars short of last year’s expectations.
But state leaders are unsure whether they’ll need to make mid-year budget cuts. Republican Governor Phil Bryant says his office is monitoring the situation.
“We are looking at this almost daily, and talking about it,” says Bryant. “I have an additional $4 million that I withheld from the ‘Rainy-Day Fund,’ and if we get in that $4 million window, I’ll certainly exercise the authority to be able to put that into important agencies that may have a deficit.”
The shortfall has already resulted in two rounds of mid-year budget cuts. The first forced a majority of state agencies to cut between two and five percent. The second removed another half percent from state spending.
In addition, many state agencies are bracing for deep cuts at the start of fiscal year 2017 – which begins July 1. Democratic lawmakers have called for a special session to reevaluate the state budget. Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn of Clinton says the are several ways lawmakers could tweak the budget.
“Well you hope that revenues increase, but you also have the rainy day fund, work-cash stabilization fund, cuts are available,” says Gunn. “You know, there are a variety of options that could be used. But we’ve not yet started the fiscal year.”
According to the Governor, one reason state revenues are below expectations because gas prices are down causing oil producers to pay less in taxes.