CL – Education, prisons top FY2011 budget battles

The state has tripled spending on prisons in the last 15 years while doubling the amount spent on school children, according to a document circulated at the Capitol.

The figures were highlighted in the budget battle that concluded last week with the passing of an $82 million patch-up plan for fiscal 2010.

The weeks-long showdown that preceded the vote was cast as a fight between quality education and public safety.

And it could very well foreshadow what’s ahead for lawmakers as they develop a 2011 fiscal budget on dwindling resources.

“When education’s not the priority in Mississippi, we lose,” said Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg.

Currently, lawmakers are considering legislation to furlough teachers and shorten the school year.