Miss. lawmakers face long budget writing process

Now that budget hearings are over, Mississippi lawmakers face a long process of deciding how to spend tax dollars for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1.

The 14 members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee held four days of public hearings last week and quizzed agency leaders about how money is already being spent on programs large and small.

“I think that’s the job we’ve now got — to evaluate how they’re spending their money, what did they get, what did they spend it on last year, what do they plan to spend it on next year, why is there an increase, what do they want that money for,” House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said after the hearings ended. “Those are the kinds of questions that we now have to evaluate and make judgment calls on.”

In December, the committee will release a budget blueprint, and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will release his own separate set of spending recommendations. All 122 House members and 52 senators will vote on a final budget by late March or early April, if they stay on schedule.

Clarion Ledger