Bryant: ‘My Fiscal Year 2015 budget uses zero one-time money’
JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant presented his Fiscal Year 2015 budget to the Legislature today, calling for building state savings and keeping spending in check.
“This budget addresses state priorities with three guiding principles in mind: spending prudently, saving for the future and prioritizing the core functions of government,” Gov. Bryant said.
Gov. Bryant’s $6.1 billion balanced budget maintains his commitment to use only 98 percent of the General Fund revenue estimate. It spends zero one-time money for recurring expenses and includes no across-the-board agency growth.
Gov. Bryant’s budget also provides $70 million for the first step in a five-year plan for repairs and renovations to state property that increases cash for capital needs and subsequently decreases bond debt. Per the plan’s first year of implementation, $27 million will be administered by the DFA for needs at state agencies that do not manage their own capital needs, and $43 million is recommended as a direct appropriation among agencies that self-manage their capital needs. Full five-year implementation of this plan could help Mississippi save $256 million in debt service costs because the state will be able to pay cash for many repair and renovation needs instead of issuing bond debt.
The budget also establishes a $16 million building repair fund for the K-12 system.
In order to build the state’s reserves and guard against the potential impacts of a slow national economy, Gov. Bryant’s budget spends none of the Rainy Day Fund, achieving $171 million in savings.
“While Mississippi’s economy grew by 2.4 percent in 2012 and our Gross Domestic Product totaled more than $100 billion for the first time, the temptation may exist to loosen budget discipline and begin spending with less caution. But this would be the wrong course for Mississippi.”
The governor’s continued commitment to the “98 percent rule” will also yield an additional $108 million set aside at the close of Fiscal Year 2015 if revenues meet projections. After year-end calculations, a portion of the set aside will be deposited into the Rainy Day Fund, which would help bring the balance to about half of its statutory limit.
“The Rainy Day Fund has been the safety net it was intended to be in lean years. As Lieutenant Governor, I worked to fill this fund to its statutory limit, and the reserves the state saved in those years helped mitigate the impacts of the Great Recession,” Gov. Bryant said.
“I am adamant that Mississippi again fill the Rainy Day Fund to its statutory limit. Failure to save while times are good is unfair to taxpayers, and it has the potential to erode other successes in an instant if we are forced to make cuts in the face of another national recession.”
Gov. Bryant’s budget also recommends $8 million to expand the state’s network of Community Health Centers, which served more than 325,000 patients in 2012. There are currently 21 principal Community Health Centers in Mississippi, and many operate satellite locations. Most of the people Community Health Centers serve have incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit. Many are also uninsured.
“I have seen firsthand the quality of care that is being provided at these Community Health Centers,” Bryant said. “This expansion will offer more Mississippians more access to primary care services. Further, research indicates that by providing high quality primary care and preventive services to vulnerable populations, Community Health Centers reduce avoidable use of high-cost services in emergency and inpatient settings, in turn lowering health care costs.”
Gov. Bryant’s $8 million recommendation includes two new initiatives, which should be administered by the Mississippi State Department of Health: