The Hattiesburg American, 2/20/8

House and Senate Appropriations committees passed bills Tuesday designed to create a funding cushion for next year’s budget.

“Right now we’ve got a lot more needs than we have in the general budget estimate. We’ve got to come up with a lot more money,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo.

The Senate bill raids several pots of money outside the regular revenue stream, including the criminal justice fund and the unclaimed property fund.

The bill also intercepts the tobacco payment made to the health care trust fund and suspends the 2 percent set aside for the state’s rainy day fund.

In addition, the bill takes $82.5 million from the state’s hurricane reserve fund that was created to provide match money for federal grants used for storm recovery projects.