State has $10 million extra to play with

The state's fiscal year is winding down

and some lawmakers are already thinking about what to do with an

extra $10 million that was taken in over earlier projections.

From July 2006 to last month, the state took in $4.15 billion.

That's $10 million more than projected for the fiscal year ending

June 30.

Officials say individual and corporate income tax growth related

to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina resulted in the extra money.

"We're going into the next fiscal year in good financial

shape," state economist Phil Pepper said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer,

D-Montrose, hopes a healthy year of tax collections can offset

higher college tuition costs.

If lawmakers can afford to give universities a "fair amount of

money," Stringer wants to prohibit the College Board from raising

tuition next year.

"It's just a tax on these students and these parents," he


Tuition at Mississippi's eight state universities will go up an

average of 6 percent beginning in August. College Board members

voted last month for the hike despite a 14.3 percent funding

increase being handed down from the Legislature.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Gordon predicted

there will be enough funding in next year's budget for schools and


"It looks like everything will be fine and revenues will be

good," Gordon, D-Okolona, said.

Mississippi isn't the only state seeing higher-than-expected

revenues, according to a www.clarionledger.come article.

Higher revenues started appearing nationwide in 2005 and have

continued because of a "stronger economy, unemployment figures,

housing growth, relatively low inflation, and an overall consumer

confidence and purchasing behavior," said Arturo Perez, fiscal

analyst for the national conference.

"The question is, are there signs of a slowdown?" he said.

"The jury's still out."