WLOX, 2/13/8

Mississippi lawmakers are taking steps to plug holes in the current state budget for Medicaid, community mental health centers and several other programs.

Appropriations Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, told the Senate that any dollar spent in the current year, which ends June 30, is a dollar that will not be available for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“I can tell you the budget picture is not pretty,” Nunnelee said Wednesday. “We’re going to have to make some tough choices. This is the first of those tough choices.”

A bill that passed the Senate, without opposition, would divide more than $100 million among several agencies, including Medicaid and the Department of Corrections. It also would authorize the spending of nearly $153 million of federal money and other funds, bringing the total to $253 million.