Democratic lawmakers say they will push GOP leaders to focus on filling in the state’s budget deficits as well as improving infrastructure.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is recommending another round of budget cuts in state government during fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1.
Republicans have characterized the downturn in tax collections as part of the sluggish economy.
“We are going to enter into this session with a significant budget deficit,” says Democratic Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford. “That’s not being negative that’s being a realistic person that the numbers just aren’t there. With all of the prior year's tax cuts that are being implemented, we won’t have the revenue we need to make basic needs.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also expressed concerns about Mississippi’s aging infrastructure. Business leaders around the state have pushed lawmakers to take up the issue and put more money into road and bridge repair, but the state Republican leadership has so far done little to increase funding.
“Let’s put a moratorium on these tax cuts,” says Representative Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez and former Chair of the House Transportation Committee. “Maybe we need to spend this money on our roads and bridges. When we get those fixed maybe we’ll have room to give the money back. Then those businesses will have a way to be more productive because they can come in and out of the state and move goods and services in and out.”
2016 also left many Democrats weary of the upcoming session. Democrats felt as though their Republicans counterparts refused to listen to their voices or concerns, eventually leading to tension and filibuster-style protests. Minority leaders say they will continue the protests into 2017 if the tone in the Capitol does not improve.