BILL CRAWFORD — Quickie budget hearings produce few surprises

he Legislature’s quickie budget hearings produced few surprises last week. Schools, colleges, and universities, as usual, asked for lots more money while legislators, as usual, focused on holding down spending.

One unusual aspect, compared to recent history, was the absence of a looming budget cut due to revenue shortfalls. State tax collections for the first two months of this fiscal year are 10% higher than last year and 4% ahead of the revenue estimate. Last year, the state collected millions less than expected and suffered three mid-year budget cuts by Governor Phil Bryant.

Tempering this good news was the continuing outlook for slow revenue growth due to what state economist Darrin Webb called the state’s “lackluster” economic performance. Fitch and S&P ratings also project “relatively slow” economic growth.