Capping travel and putting a moratorium on purchasing vehicles are two ways Mississippi lawmakers say they are working to cut waste in state agency budgets. The pair discussed the issue at a Mississippi Economic Council event.
State agency budgets should be simple and transparent. That's the goal of the Simplification and Transparency Act, according to Republican Senator Buck Clarke of Hollandale. Clarke chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. He told business leaders at the Mississippi Economic Council's Legislative Scrambler, a review of state agency budgets last year, found some had bank accounts they didn't know existed and agencies paying each other for expenses.
"Every agency had to pay rent. DFA controlled the buildings, another acronym department of finance and administration. We'd say how much does it cost to run all our buildings in state government. Well we're not really sure because we just charge rent, kinda what we need. We come up with square footage for the rental amount," said Clarke.
Republican John Read of Jackson County, chairs the House Appropriations Committee. He says they're just getting started at the Capitol and don't know the numbers yet. He talked about this summer's state agency budget hearings. They looked at dollars spent on vehicles, travel and contracts.
"We came up with about three or four bills to be dropped. We put a moratorium on automobiles except law enforcement," said Read.
Read says lawmakers are also capping agency travel. Democratic Senator Robert Jackson of Quitman County, says he'd like money recovered from streamlining budgets to be used to meet other needs.
"Use that savings to fund agencies that need it like the highway patrol that's very low in terms of number of people they have out on the highway," said Jackson.
Senator Buck Clarke says revenues are slightly higher, but under projections. He wants to appropriate 98 percent of the state's revenue and put two percent in the rainy day fund.