Bryant Releases 6-billion Dollar Recommended Budget
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Governor Phil Bryant

Governor Phil Bryant is recommending a 6-point-one billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that begins next July. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on the highlights of the Governor's proposal.

Governor Phil Bryant says his budget spends state money wisely, saves for the future and focuses on essential government services.

Bryant says a main highlight of his budget is the decision to set aside 70-million dollars in cash to improve state buildings rather than borrow for maintenance.

"If we implement this plan of 70-million dollars we will save 45-million dollars in debt services cost. And over the five years if it is fully implemented we would be able to save 256-million dollars in debt services costs," Bryant said.

The Governor also recommends level funding for K-12 education but increases higher education spending.

The recommendation also contains no one time money for recurring expenses and would put 108-million in the rainy day fund.

The governor's budget also includes 4-and-a-half million dollars for hospitals to replace federal money that is being cut due to the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid director David Dzielak says that amount should come close to making the hospitals whole.

"It should cover the real cuts that are projected. And again those are just projected cuts. It certainly will be helpful I am not sure it will cover it all," Dzielak said.

The law had anticipated that the difference would be made up by Medicaid expansion, but the Governor says he remains firmly opposed to adding any additional Mississippians to Medicaid.

But House minority leader Bobby Moak of Bouge Chitto says that money is a band-aid compared to what Medicaid expansion would bring.

"Because we do need local rural health care and that is fine. But the thing is, you can't get away from the fact that we are going to lose 3-million bucks a day by not accepting the funds from the federal government," Moak said.

Moak says he does not oppose the entire budget, noting that increase spending on drug courts and a new trooper school are initiatives Democrats can get behind.

The full legislature convenes in January and will likely produce a budget by April.