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Democratic leaders calling for special session

JACKSON, Miss.- Democrats gathered at the Mississippi Department of Health building in Jackson to ask Gov. Phil Bryant to call a special session and reconsider this years budget cuts.

With massive budget cuts that democrats are attributing to corporate tax cuts, House Minority Leader Rep. David Baria joined fellow democrats to ask for that special session.

“Senate Bill 2362 which made 16 state agencies, a general fund, and disallowed transfers between the agencies. One example, the MDOH can no longer pay agencies for services or receive payment for their services,” Baria said.

Within MDOH, $5.2 million in general funds will be cut, however, $9.2 million that would have been paid for by special fee collections (such as trauma care fund, EMS fund, domestic violence fund) will now come out of the MDOH general fund. That puts the agency at an 11 percent cut, losing nearly $4 million in their budget.

Democrats fear the effect of these cuts will impact health care and disaster relief across the state.

For example, MDOH will not be allowed to bill MEMA for medical costs in the event of a disaster situation, which will then prevent MEMA from drawing federal assistance from FEMA.

“MEMA does not have enough money today to respond if a hurricane hit the Gulf Coast tomorrow,” Baria said.

MDOH reported that they will be required to cut 79 investigator positions by July 1st. Those jobs are currently filled by people who certify hospitals, nursing homes, and community based services to ensure that they will continue to receive Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements that could total in billions of dollars.

This loss will force inspections to be curtailed due to a shortage of manpower. That cut could result in a rise in food borne illness, the propagation of undetected disease, and a slowdown in residential and commercial construction.

This is the Mississippi Legislative Democrats call for a return to fiscal sanity.

“Nobody knows what impact these changes could have,” Senator John Horhn said.

News Mississippi has reached out to the Governor’s office and are awaiting a response.

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