Analysis: 2016 budget still grim, and 2017 looking ugly, too

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, for example, disputes the idea that less state spending is to blame for changes at the Department of Mental Health. He says the agency, which announced a series of service cuts last week, will actually come out $1 million ahead in state support after lawmakers removed the need to transfer money for lawyers, computer services and rent.

“While we’re going to experience some growing pains in this process, in the long term, the taxpayers are going to be far better off,” Reeves told Mississippi Public Broadcasting, saying the process would lead to more legislative control and efficiency. “We’re going to be able to cut expenditures.”

And cuts may be needed. There could be at least another $120 million in deficits already lurking in 2017. Mississippi’s Medicaid program asked for a $1.04 billion budget in 2017, but got $88 million less. That appropriation assumes the program will spend less in 2017 than this year, which almost never happens. State Treasurer Lynn Fitch also says lawmakers put $31 million less than needed into the budget to make state debt payments next year.

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