The legislative committee’s proposed budget would set aside money for the second year of a teacher pay raise, but it would fall about $280 million short for the school funding formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It would decrease funding for Medicaid, universities, community colleges, human services and mental health.
The legislative proposal would save money by reducing travel, limiting purchase of equipment and eliminating 2,200 vacant government jobs. It also would put millions of dollars into cash reserves.
Gunn and Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves — who alternate as chairmen of the Budget Committee — said the proposal would not pay for ongoing expenses, such as salaries, by using sources of money that are available only a single year at a time, such as winnings from lawsuit settlements. During the Great Recession, legislators often used one-time money to supplement the budget, but critics say the practice is a bad habit.
“I think we’re in fantastic financial shape,” Gunn said Tuesday.
However, Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory said the proposal by the Republican-controlled budget committee ignores serious problems in one of the poorest states in the nation.