Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is speaking out on a new law that will take some special funds from state agencies to help fund the state budget. MPB's Mark Rigsby reports.
Hood issued three opinions on Senate Bill 2362, based on concerns raised by the Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and Mississippi Tort Claims Board. The bill was passed by the legislature earlier this year.
“They were warned about this. They did it anyway. They made some mistakes. They wrote the law, and we’re merely interpreting what they wrote,” says Attorney General Jim Hood.
Hood says the new law doesn't affect tens of millions of dollars in state trust funds, which the agencies questioned.
“If they would have written the legislation correctly, they could’ve swept all these funds,” says Hood.
Senator Buck Clarke, of Hollandale, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He says 2362 is intended to provide transparency and accountability for state money.
“There were millions sitting in account that hadn’t been touched in years. Just blows your mind. We’re just trying to correct all of that,” says Clarke.
Clarke says some state agencies withholding certain special funds will not harm next year's $6 billion budget. However, Hood says he's concerned about the state's financial situation.
Governor Phil Bryant says he will "take Attorney General Hood's opinion into consideration and work with the legislative leadership to determine if any adjustments are needed."
Hood's opinions are not legally binding. Each state agency receiving an opinion must decide whether to follow the advice.