Mississippi governor eyes using rain day fund

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said he would consider tapping a rainy day fund to help offset worsening drops in state revenue.

Barbour told legislators on Monday in a State of the State speech in Jackson, Mississippi, that a decline in the state’s general fund revenue had steepened to 8.1 percent and revenue was on track to be down this fiscal year by $437 million.

“Just a few months ago we estimated the shortfall would be $371 million, but an 8.1 percent shortfall would be $437 million, and I frankly fear it may be worse,” the Republican governor said.

Legislators would need both to cut the current budget and keep spending down in fiscal 2011, which begins July 1, according to Barbour.

Barbour said revenue forecasts for fiscal 2011 beginning on July 1 were not yet ready but he urged tight-fisted spending and asked for a law allowing the governor to cut state agency budgets by 10 percent if needed.