The Clarion-Ledger, 12/3/8

Thousands of vacant jobs in state government will be frozen. State employees won’t get raises. But public education’s major funding source will be spared.

These are a few of the recommendations of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who agreed Tuesday on budget proposals for Mississippi’s next fiscal year.

Their suggestions will be considered as the full Legislature convenes in January to decide how to divvy up about $5 billion among state agencies for the fiscal year that begins in July. A final budget won’t be approved until next spring.

Before voting, several members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee said they would reluctantly give their support. Because state law doesn’t give them much flexibility in making recommendations, the committee’s budget omits proposals such as a tobacco tax hike to raise revenue and use of the state’s reserves to prevent deeper cuts.