The legislative session ends but not without some hurdles - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

The legislative session ends but not without some hurdles

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)-The legislative session has ended with an agreement between lawmakers on most issues but redistricting was not one of them. 

District 2, Representative Toby Barker said, this was definitely one of the most combative sessions. Redistricting disagreements on top of major budget issues but in the end, a greater than 5-billion dollar budget was passed.  However, political boundary lines may be determined in court.

Barker said, "Redistricting was the one that we didn't quite get settled. The House and Senate never really came to an agreement and unless negotiators reach a deal within the next few weeks, this will be settled in court."

The House and Senate did however come to an agreement on some key issues that remained uncertain for quite some time, like the future of a few inpatient mental health institutions across the state. Barker said, the elimination of some stimulus money coupled with a not so great economy was to blame.

 

"When you are dealing with the budget and redistricting, which you need to get done this year, it's always going to be tough."

"The budget wasn't quite as bad as everyone feared, said Barker, "It was definitely our toughest budget year because we are losing all of our stimulus money, but I think all of our folk's will make it through it and all of our agencies will be sustained."

South Mississippi State Hospital, will remain open and continue to serve those needing inpatient services. In addition, M.A.E.P. funding took a .26% cut and Universities will endure more than 1.5% in cuts. Barker said,  he is pleased, that lawmakers passed a bill for historic tax credits, which will give developers more flexibility when it comes to revitalizing the downtown area.

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