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Your Tax Dollars at Work: Lawmakers Expect More Money for This Year and the Next

Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

JACKSON, Miss.–Your state lawmakers expect to have an additional $250 million to work with while they get the state’s budget ready over the next few days. But, Gov. Bryant reminded them to budget conservatively, even though the previously unexpected money is there.

Part of that money, about $70 million, is coming from one-time funds, settlements collected from lawsuits by the attorney general’s office.

Bryant and other Republican lawmakers have repeatedly expressed distaste for using one-time money for on-going expenses.

The Legislative Budget Committee is the body responsible for raising the revenue estimate Tuesday. That’s made up of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who oversees the Senate, and House Speaker Phillip Gunn (R-Clinton), plus 12 more legislators, who decide what money goes where.

“It is encouraging to see Mississippi’s economy perform well enough to justify an increase in the revenue estimate. I urge lawmakers to fund critical public safety needs like a trooper school, additional assistant district attorneys, law enforcement strike teams, and staffing and equipment for the state crime lab,” said Bryant in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “However, we must still budget conservatively; even though revenues are up, I am adamant that the state continue to save and set aside a portion of revenues as a cushion against uncertainty.”

Part of the money could go toward a teacher pay raise. Senators voted recently to use Medicaid money to put $60 million toward funding the Miss. Adequate Education Program, a move that some Republicans said was irresponsible, believing it would cost the state more than $300 million in Medcaid money when subtracting federal matching funds.

Sen. Hobb Bryan (D-Amory) told News Mississippi he believed the money would eventually come from somewhere else when budget talks got underway.

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