Miss. lawmakers start passing final budget bills

Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee told his Senate colleagues that he has tried to give them as much information as possible about how tax dollars will be spent.

“If I’m hit by a Mac truck tomorrow and I never walk back in this Senate chamber, I hope (that’s) one of the legacies I’ll leave,” said Nunnelee, R-Tupelo.

Mississippi will have a nearly $5.5 billion budget for the year that begins July 1.

That’s down significantly from the roughly $6 billion budget the state had at the start of the current year. Republican Gov. Haley Barbour has made five rounds of spending cuts since last summer because of anemic tax collections during the economic slump.

The budget for the coming year includes about $300 million drawn from the state’s financial reserves.

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said Mississippi will still have hundreds of millions of dollars left in reserve funds. He said some of that should’ve been used to help school districts avoid eliminating teachers’ jobs and to help state agencies avoid furloughs.