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State should improve spending estimates, says report
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Paul Volcker, American Economist and founder of The Volcker Alliance.
The Volcker Alliance

A new report says Mississippi needs to do a better job at estimating how much money the state will spend over multiple years. According to the new analysis,  the estimates are available but they're too hard to find. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

Mississippi's multiple year spending estimates are buried in the state legislature's budget book and difficult to find says a new report from the Volcker Alliance. Bill Glasgall is with the nonpartisan group of analysts and the author of the five category report.

The group evaluates each state government's budgeting practices. On a 3 year average, Mississippi scores a C in the budget forecasting category. Glasgall encourages the state to do a better job at explaining itself.

"It doesn't really provide any information. It just says here's some numbers for revenue three years out and expenditures three years out. We don't know what assumptions go into this. It's kind of a black box," said Glasgall. 

Mississippi was given A's and B's in other categories such as transparency and reserve funds.

"For the most part, Mississippi is sort of in the upper middle zone. Not terrible and not perfect. No state is perfect. Even Texas in many ways is fiscally very sound and conservative but it gets demerits for some things," said Glasgall. 

State economist Darrin Webb says the budget practices work for Mississippians. What doesn't work, is relying heavily on multiple year estimates.

"So in my opinion, a multi-year forecast, it's good to do it so that you have some sort of general idea of which trends you're going in but as far as incorporating it into decision making, I think it's ridiculous," said Webb. 

Webb says the state is expected to have slightly less to spend in the fiscal year 2019 than the current year.