More cuts likely to balance state budget - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

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More cuts likely to balance state budget

By Mike McDaniel - Bio | Email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - State lawmakers will have a tough time trying to balance a budget that's already way behind projections when the legislative session convenes next week. And for state agencies, more cuts.

Governor Haley Barbour is now asking the Legislature for approval in allowing him to make cuts up to 10 percent for state agencies before making across-the-board cuts. Currently, by state statute, the governor is only allowed to make cuts up to 5 percent.

December makes the 16th month in a row the state has collected below revenue estimates.

$372 million was projected to be the state's shortfall but now, halfway through the fiscal year, it's predicted to be even more. Some Pine Belt lawmakers say cuts are unavoidable and a 10 percent increase for the governor could be a battle. 

"The bottom line is the cuts will have to be made," said Republican senator Joey Fillingane of Hattiesburg. "I would rather go ahead and get it done as quickly as possible and if the governor is willing to step up to the plate and make those cuts, I'm all for giving him the authority to do so," Fillingane said. 

"I think it's going to be a battle to do that," said another Republican senator, Tom King of Petal. "If it's needed he has no choice, we have no choice. The constitution says we have to end the year with a balanced budget, so that's what we're up against." King said. 

"10 percent is too much," said Democratic Representative Percy Watson. "I don't believe that that particular proposal will be enacted by both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature."

Senator King suggests furloughs for all state employees once or twice a month before making drastic cuts.

Lawmakers will head to Jackson Tuesday.

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