Mississippi lawmakers are in the midst of meeting with state agency heads to review their expenditures and look for waste. The day begins with the state health department with assistance from the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration.
Tuesday morning, Dr. Mary Currier, state health officer for the Mississippi Department of Health, answered a barrage of questions about the agency's budget. Lawmakers noted in 2012 the department received $26 million and their funding is up to $36 million now. Currier explained legislators approved additional funding from other sources that made the increase about $5.5 million. She says the additional monies pay for infant mortality programs, fees and supplements services like waste water testing and hospital inspections
"A lot of our services that we supplement with state funds continue to increase in costs, while our fees for those services remain the same," said Currier.
Currier says they've raised their fees but that still doesn't cover the actual cost. She told lawmakers they've closed nine clinics, laid off staff and haven't filled positions. Democratic State Representative Omeria Scott from Laurel says, most of the health department's funding comes from the federal government.
"The health department for the amount of money that the state puts in, their budget is 50-something percent of federal funds. I think it's only 11 percent of general funds," said Scott.
Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn says they're looking for any duplication in services.
"To make sure that we're putting the dollars into what their mission is, so it's an on-going process," said Gunn.
Dr. Mary Currier says they've developed a strategic plan to assess the cost benefit of everything they do with the help of a privately funded group.