CL – School districts may be on chopping block

Mississippi would have fewer school districts and mental-health facilities, and funding for other state agencies would shrink an average of about 12 percent – if lawmakers follow Gov. Haley Barbour’s budget recommendations.

“It’s hard stuff,” Barbour said Monday after outlining a $5.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. “We have to make the savings, though.”

The budget next year is expected to be $715 million less than lawmakers appropriated for the current year, mainly because of falling state revenues. State agencies had requested $1.4 billion in increased spending.

According to the governor’s recommendations, the state could save millions by consolidating some of its public school districts, going from 152 to about 100.