In the wake of a round of budget cuts by Gov. Haley Barbour and the possibility of more before year’s end, that any state agency would be asking for more money next year is quite frankly mystifying.
Yet multiple state agencies and institutions last week pitched higher funding requests as the Joint Legislative Budget Committee began its deliberations for the new state budget that will start July 1. A formal budget recommendation will be prepared for lawmakers to consider when they convene in January.
The requested funding increases make one wonder if some state agency leaders have read a newspaper, saw a TV newscast or listened to the radio lately. The fact that the nation and Mississippi are in an economic crunch has been impossible to miss.
Perhaps one of the more egregious sought-after increases was $50 million – or 25 percent – more for the state Department of Mental Health, which is already one of the largest agencies in state government. We have to agree with state Sen. Billy Hewes, who said that kind of request would be “eye-popping even in good times.”