The governor already has cut $172 million from the current state budget and has predicted more spending will need to be reduced because monthly revenues remain significantly below expectations.
State law does set some restrictions on a governor’s budget cuts. He can cut no more than 5 percent of spending from any department without legislative approval. No more than 5 percent can be cut until that amount is applied to all departments. Once that’s done, further spending reductions must be applied equally among all departments.
Barbour, speaking last week to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said he wants authority to cut spending up to 10 percent. He believes this will give him and future governors more flexibility to manage the state’s finances.
Legislative Democrats immediately reacted with skepticism to the Republican governor’s idea. Although there may have been some partisanship in their reaction, lawmakers as a rule don’t like conceding power to any governor, no matter the incumbent’s political persuasion.