Senate moves to reduce government waste, boost transparency - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Senate moves to reduce government waste, boost transparency

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) -

This is a news release from the office of Tate Reeves

The State Senate stood against spending one-time money on annual expenses while committees passed legislation improving efficiencies in government and increasing transparency by today's deadline, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said.

"Over the next week, the Senate will consider many of these good-government bills that cut wasteful spending while ensuring taxpayers can see what their government is doing," Lt. Gov. Reeves said.

The Senate also stood by its commitment to stop using non-recurring revenues, like legal settlements, on annual expenses by not considering Senate Bill 2775 in committee. The bill would have transferred one-time funds from several accounts to fund ongoing expenses in agency budgets – a habit the Legislature has relied upon for a decade.

"It is time the Legislature break this bad habit of paying for annual operating expenses with non-recurring revenues," Lt. Gov. Reeves said. "Mississippi families don't plan their budgets betting on windfalls and neither should their government. I'm proud of Sen. Clarke for his fiscal responsibility."

Under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Reeves, Mississippi's reliance on one-time funds has declined while the amount of funds in the Rainy Day Fund has grown. Boosting the state's savings account provides a cushion for Mississippi to weather economic downturns.

The Senate took action to increase government efficiency and transparency by today's deadline for committees to consider general bills. Several bills head to the Senate for consideration.

The Senate bills include:

Reduce fees on Mississippians

Senate Bill 2478 reduces the concealed carry fee on Mississippians' right to the lawful possession of a firearm. The bill was filed after legislators learned the Department of Public Safety illegally raised concealed carry fees to bolster its budget by $4.1 million over the past two years.

[Release_graphic]"Mississippians should not be overcharged just because they own a gun," Lt. Gov. Reeves said. "I will continue to fight for Mississippians' rights to protect themselves. That's why I opposed DPS illegal actions to raise fees on gun owners and won."

Cutting Waste

Senate Bill 2503 reinstates a moratorium on state vehicle purchases, with an exception for law enforcement needs. A similar moratorium passed in 2012 saved taxpayers $9.9 million and reduced agency fleets by 8 percent.

Senate Bill 2506 coordinates agency office space use based on recommendations from the Else School of Management at Millsaps College. Currently, state agencies and boards have few standards to use when deciding to acquire new office space or expand, which means taxpayers are at risk of paying too much for new government offices.

Senate Bill 2606 removes agencies from the Personnel Board for two years. The Departments of Marine Resources and Education have asked for the exemption to provide directors with maximum flexibility to ensure agencies are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Increased transparency of government programs

Senate Bill 2640 would create a strategic evaluation of taxpayer-funded incentives that measures the benefits and costs of such initiatives and evaluates areas for improvement. The Pew Charitable Trusts said passage of the bill would make "Mississippi a national leader among states."

Senate Bill 2726 allows the state auditor to audit state-funded economic development projects and RESTORE Act funds the state may receive from any fines and settlements related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The bill also allows the auditor to audit economic development programs at his discretion.

Senate Bill 2579 reorganizes the Department of Marine Resources and requires an annual audit of the agency. The bill also creates a chief financial officer at the agency and a legislative oversight committee to review fiscal decisions of the Commission of Marine Resources.

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