Miss. budget negotiations stalled again; House Democrats nix Senate spending plan, fearing layoffs

Top leaders in the Democratic-controlled Mississippi House rejected a Senate spending plan Thursday that they said will result in laying off thousands of state workers, including highway patrolmen and Health Department nurses.

Leaders in the Republican-led Senate did not dispute their assertions, saying cuts are needed now to prevent even more damage in future years.

The impasse is stalling a nearly $5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, leaving funding for state agencies and school districts up in the air.

Lawmakers hope to reach an agreement before the full Legislature reconvenes May 26.

Budgets are typically agreed upon in late March or early April, but lagging revenues this year are making spending decisions more difficult.

The uncertainty is causing concern for school district officials who need to hire teachers.

“You really don’t know who or how much, so everybody’s pretty much in limbo trying to see what the final numbers are going to be,” said Noxubee County Superintendent Kevin Jones, whose district was one of four facing bankruptcy earlier this year.

Clarion-Ledger
5/15/9