Bryant: ‘We must spend prudently, save for the future and identify core functions of government’

JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant unveiled his Executive Budget Recommendations for fiscal 2013, providing legislators with the framework for a balanced budget that has no new taxes, no planned deficits, reduces dependence on spending one-time monies for recurring expenses and sets aside two percent of the state’s revenue for the “rainy day” fund.

Bryant made the announcement Tuesday from the former Supreme Court Chamber inside the Capitol.

“Putting this budget recommendation together was no easy task, but it contains some sweeping changes to the way money has traditionally been budgeted in the past,” Gov. Bryant said. “This budget spends $168.4 million less in one-time money for recurring expenses than was used in fiscal ’12. Total state support spending is $26 million less than last year and I am committed to doing more with less, making necessary cuts before raising taxes.”

The budget recommendation calls for state agencies to be granted “lump sum” spending authority and to be exempted from State Personnel Board requirements for the next four years. Similar legislation was supported by Bryant as lieutenant governor and always passed the Senate but failed adoption by the House.

“These flexibility measures will allow agency heads to prioritize their budgets, instead of having spending arbitrarily dictated by the legislature,” Bryant said. “I see these measures as a way to build a more efficient state government and maximize our output.”

The budget recommendations are based on a $5.49 billion state budget for fiscal 2013 and include $4.56 billion in projected General Fund revenue. Bryant’s budget uses $274.3 million of the state’s available $280.7 million in cash reserves. If the Legislature agrees with setting aside the 2 percent, it is anticipated that the state would build more than $100 million available to weather fiscal ‘14.

Bryant’s budget recommendation calls for a 5.53 percent cut to all state agencies with the exception of court-ordered settlements, debt service, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy, Military Department, Veteran Affairs Board, District Attorneys, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Student Financial Aid, Board Certified Teacher Program and Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It also recommends a 6.5 percent cut to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature.

Bryant proposes smaller cuts to the Mississippi Development Authority and the Department of Human Services.

Some highlights from Gov. Bryant’s budget recommendation include:

• Level funding MAEP using $1.95 billion in state funds and $72.9 million in local reserve funds. (School districts had in excess of $615 million in reserves as of 06/30/11.)

Other education spending ($27 million):
• $6 million to Emergency Bridge Loan Fund.
• $3.7 million increase above FY2012 to Chickasaw Interest, as required by law.
• $12 million total to Teach for America and MS Teachers Corps.
• $5.7 million to fully fund high growth districts.

Community Colleges and IHL:
• Student Financial Aid level-funded ($26.9 million).
• Existing $27 million appropriation made to DOE for workforce development now goes directly to community colleges that administer programs.

• Fiscal ‘13 appropriation is level to FY12 at $763 million.
• Center for Medicaid Services projects 36,000 new eligible enrollees this year.
• Without proposed reform the potential cost to Mississippi taxpayers in fiscal ’13 is over $100 million more than in fiscal 2012.
• Medicaid must have more flexibility to set reimbursement rates, or Mississippi must add more than $100 million to Medicaid’s General Fund appropriation.
• Adding more than $100 million without giving Medicaid more flexibility will result in drastic reductions to state agency appropriations.

Gov. Bryant also reiterated his frustration with the current budgeting process and called for the passage of the Smart Budget Act, a performance-based budgeting system that requires budget decisions to be made based on results.

“I am not a fan of the current antiquated budgeting system. Deciding how much to spend before we even know how much money we have is not a good practice, and the time for reforming the process is now. Confronting expenditures with a fact-based budgeting system that Mississippi addresses needs affordability.”

Governor Phil Bryant Press Release