Analysis: State treasurer seeks budget change

Mississippi already has a requirement for a balanced budget every year. The part of state law setting out Mississippi’s budgeting process states in part that planned expenditures “shall not exceed the amount of estimated revenues that will be available in the general and special funds for appropriation or use during the succeeding fiscal year.”

Fitch, though, argued that’s not enough. She pointed to problems with the budget that lawmakers enacted for the year that began July 1. Lawmakers adopted a spending plan that overestimated revenues by $56 million after legislative staffers counted some money that would no longer be collected. Then, Attorney General Jim Hood issued a series of opinions saying lawmakers couldn’t take $72 million from various trust funds and spend it….

…Fitch said she’d like to see lawmakers propose the amendment to voters, which would require a two-thirds vote in each house. However, she reserved the possibility that she would launch a petition drive to go through the arduous process for voters to propose an amendment.

It’s unclear how much aid Fitch will get from lawmakers, now having attacked their practices twice this year, after earlier questioning spending in the state’s annual bond bill to borrow money for projects. Fitch is clearly ambitious, and reports indicate she’s told some supporters that she’d like to run for attorney general in 2019.

Clarion Ledger
8/7/16