Lawmakers enter a new budget year with some old problems

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

Hattiesburg, MS (WDAM) - With the first week of the legislative session out of the way, lawmakers are now trying to figure out how to meet the proposed $5.47 billion budget.

"I am cautiously optimistic," said Senator Billy Hudson at the monthly Pastries and Politics meeting Monday.

Hudson made it clear he supports most of Governor Barbour's recommendations for the 2012 budget, even though funding will be a challenge.

"We are short $383 million due to stimulus money that we will no longer have this year." Which Hudson said, will leave the state with a shortfall of $634 million.

The Governor suggests an 8% cut to most state agencies which Hudson said he supports. However, he said cutting the budget for mental health and higher education would  not be in the best interest of the state.

"There is going to be some cuts and people are going to feel them, we are going to have to do the best we can."

While keeping a balanced budget in mind, lawmakers will also have to juggle redistricting since the 2010 census showed some population shifts .

"We have lost some in the Delta, we've lost a lot on the coast, we've seen growth in Forrest County and a tremendous amount in Lamar County."

With another tough year upon Legislators, Hudson said, he can see the light at the end of a cash strapped tunnel.

"I think that we can enter into this session with faith not fear. However, we are going to have to be careful and make conservative decisions as we get through this year."

Senator Hudson also said, he has no interest in seeking any other office, in fact he has already qualified to seek re-election.

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