As released from Lt. Governor and Governor-elect Phil Bryant…

JACKSON – The state collected 5.67 percent more in sales tax revenues than it projected for December, according to data from the Department of Revenue. Despite this good news of more than $19 million, Governor-elect Phil Bryant stresses the importance of prudent spending among different state agencies.

“We need to be careful in how we spend the taxpayers’ dollars and efficient in how we run state agencies,” Bryant said. “As we enter 2012, we need to be reminded of our high unemployment rate, which is about 1.5 percent higher than the national average.”

Because of a continued sagging national economy the state’s unemployment rate is 9.7 percent.

“This is proof that our economy is still fragile, and we must prepare for the budget challenges that lie ahead,” Bryant said.

The state’s economist, Darrin Webb, told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in November that economic growth in Mississippi is at a near standstill, making the state vulnerable to a fluctuating economy.

One way to help improve the budget of the state is through changing how the state allocates its money. Bryant plans to push for the state to implement performance-based budgeting, also known as the Smart Budget Act. The Smart Budget Act requires budget decisions to be made based on results.

The Senate passed legislation in 2010 and 2011 that would have created a system of performance-based budgeting, but it died in committee in the House both years.

The Smart Budget Act, if passed, would give the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) Committee oversight in working with state agencies to ensure they are meeting expectations as required by law.

“Confronting these budget challenges with fact based budgeting system confronts what Mississippi needs and can afford,” Bryant said. “I am not a fan of the current budgeting system for it is antiquated. We need reform, and the Smart Budget Act is a way we can ensure taxpayer money is being spent the best way possible,

This year, our state agencies requested more than $1 billion in new spending. Our state can’t foot the bill for increased spending of that nature. A performance-based budgeting system would require agencies to justify spending.”

Twenty-two states now use performance-based budgeting, and a 23rd state, Nevada, is in the process of implementing it, according to State Budget Solution, a non-partisan think tank.

December revenue at a glance:

· Sales Tax above 1.12% or +$1,641,031
· Ind. Income Tax above 4.24% or +$4,159,551
· Gaming Tax below 10.26% or -$1,261,294
· Total General Fund above 5.67% or +$19,340,138
(All numbers according to Sine Die FY 2012 Est.)