The Clarion-Ledger, 3/21/9

With mounting shortfalls expected and uncertainties over federal stimulus requirements stalling budget decisions, Mississippi lawmakers may recess the regular legislative session to search for answers.

Lawmakers learned Friday that they’ll probably have $600 million less to work with this fiscal year and the next, based on recommendations from the state’s economist and other advisers. State Economist Phil Pepper predicts revenues will remain sluggish until 2011.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant said an adjournment date of March 31 is under consideration, with lawmakers returning in late May. They plan to finalize work on other legislation before recessing.

The budget they eventually agree upon will be used to pay for state services for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It’s expected to get a boost from $2.8 billion in federal stimulus dollars, but the rules for spending the money and timelines for receiving it are unclear at this point.