Snowden: Budget Hearings Continue With "Weariness"
by Chris Davis
JACKSON, Miss.--Mississippians are used to hearing about money crunches and state budget problems, but this year's hearings have proven to be a drag for lawmakers and agencies, thus far.
We spoke with Rep. Greg Snowden, who is part of the joint House and Senate Budget Committee hearing from state agencies this week about their needs for Fiscal Year 2014.
"We've really had severe budgetary problems since 2008," he said. "I think folks are ready for it to change and the depressing thing is, it doesn't appear to be."
The folks he's talking about are agency heads and workers and lawmakers, all of whom have had to come to grips with shrinking revenues and an increased demand for money from state-funded agencies. Snowden so far this week has had to hear from the state retirement system about a need for more money to secure it for the possible one third of state workers who could retire in the next few years and from the state treasurer's office about the freeze on the state's prepaid tuition program, brought about by a need to assess how it will continue to operate.
"There's a weariness. I mean state government, state employees, state agencies have suffered. They've sacrificed. Certainly we expect them to do that because it's all about the taxpayer and the services we provide. But, at some point it just gets to wearing on you and I do sense that in the presentations."
One bright spot may be the $35 million check delivered to the state by Attorney Gen. Jim Hood's office. That money came from several settlements Hood said his office worked out between pharmaceutical companies accused of fraud and from a settlement with Microsoft.
In addition, Mississippi did not spend all alocated revenues from the last fiscal year and there were me months where sales tax revenues were higher than projected.