Gov. Phil Bryant has called a special session of the Mississippi Legislature that will begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 5. The session will focus on state appropriations and incorporating best practices that will bolster the state’s ability to maintain a balanced budget and healthy finances.
Gov. Bryant has added to his original call for the 2017 Special Session. The document was released Monday afternoon amid discussions in the House and Senate:
“The session should last one, perhaps two, days, in order to minimize costs to taxpayers,” Gov. Bryant said.
The call for the special session will include:
1. An act to amend Chapter 25, Laws of 2016 (Senate Bill 2916). To revise the appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of State for Fiscal Year 2017 to direct the Secretary of State to make the payments due in accordance with the Point Cadet compromise and settlement agreement.
2. An act making an appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of State for the purpose of making distributions to local governments for back taxes owed for the 2017 fiscal year; and making a re appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of state for the purpose of reauthorizing the expenditure of state general funds that are unexpended as of June 30, 2017 for the same purposes as authorized for expenditures form the lands records maintenance fund for Fiscal Year 2018.
The FORTIFY Act:
- Requires a multi-year financial plan from the Legislative Budget Office. Although Mississippi currently formulates such plans, credit rating agencies have consistently favored the codification of these plans into statute.
- Increases the Rainy Day Fund cap from 7.5 percent of current fiscal year appropriations to 10 percent. Many other states have recently increased statutory caps on savings accounts due to volatile revenue trends and the need for more flexibility. Rating agencies will view this as a positive change.
- Revises the distribution of unencumbered cash, which represents a cash balance at the end of the fiscal year, so that more funds will be directed to our savings account and the Capital Expense Fund. This will allow us to save more and borrow less.
- Stops projected cash balances (unencumbered cash) in the prior year from being added to the revenue estimate to formulate the budget. Since revenue estimates, upon which funds are appropriated, are made before the end of the fiscal year, it is impossible to know how much cash balance will carry over to the next fiscal year. This takes some of the guess work out of preparing the budget and allows for the purest estimate of revenue in any given year.
- Eliminates the Budget Contingency Fund. The Budget Contingency Fund is an old account that is no longer used as originally intended. In addition, rating agencies have had complaints about how it has been used in the past.
Clarifications to the Budget Transparency and Simplification Act.
This includes several technical amendments to the 2016 legislation that reformed how the state manages special budget funds. This will entail clarifying some of the bill’s language with regard to trust fund accounts and allow for federal funds to be spent on utilities and technology, where appropriate.
- Mississippi Department of Transportation
- Office of the Attorney General
- Office of State-aid Road
Other items that were debated as possible topics were the lottery, an annual revenue stream for roads and bridges, and the changes to public education funding. Governor Bryant had recently stated that without a consensus from legislature, he would not add these items to the call.