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Budget Proposals Spell Cuts For State Agencies
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Many state agencies could see further budget cuts in the coming year under a set of budget proposals working their way through the legislature.

Lawmakers have taken their first steps toward crafting a budget for fiscal year 2017, and it couldn’t look any different from the one they passed last year.

Under a set of proposals passed by the Senate yesterday, many of the state’s agencies could see drastic cuts up to five percent next year. The Senate has also approved measures that would increase funding for public schools by roughly 40 million dollars, as well as increases in Medicaid and the state’s foster care system.

Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale is the Senate Appropriations Chair.

“We only had about $29 million in new money to play with,” says Clarke. “So in Senate action, we had some priorities to tend to. We then went back to all the other budgets to see how much you have to cut now. It equated to four or five percent cuts across the board for every other agency to be able to plus those things up.”

In the House, lawmakers have yet to really address next year’s budget. Over the past week, they’ve passed a number of so-called “dummy bills” serving as placeholders until later in the session.

House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson, a Republican from Poplarville, says it still too early to tell what the 2017 budget will look like, especially with state revenues much lower than expected.

“We’ll we’ve got to come up with about $100 million somewhere, somehow,” says Firerson. “I don’t know how we’ll do it. It really hasn’t taken much shape yet."

This is the first round of budget proposals during this legislative session. Each chamber will now take a look at the other’s proposals before lawmakers go into negotiations in a few weeks.