House and Senate Democrats held a press conference at 11:00 a.m. today to announce their budget plan for the 2013 fiscal year. Democrats proposed level funding for the following key budget areas: 1) education, 2) healthcare, and 3) local libraries. The Republican budget plan, introduced by Governor Phil Bryant on January 31, 2012, proposes significant cuts to each of these areas. “Our budget plan would provide level funding for education, community mental health and local libraries without raising taxes and without exhausting our savings,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Rep. Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto).
The Republican budget would cut education by more than $100 million including: a) nearly $73 million in cuts to elementary education, b) over $12 million in cuts to community colleges, and c) over $18 million in cuts to four year colleges.
“With our improving economy, we have enough money to maintain level funding,” said Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory). “There is not a single Republican who won election by campaigning on spending less on education but that is exactly what their budget proposes.”
The Republican budget would cut healthcare by nearly $30 million including: a) nearly $12 million in cuts to the University Medical Center, b) nearly $14 million in cuts to the Department of Mental Health, c) nearly $3 million in cuts to Public Health, and d) over $1 million in cuts to Rehabilitation Services.
“The Republican healthcare plan is nothing short of reckless. These deep cuts place the public at risk by jeopardizing our community mental health centers and cutting healthcare centers that have already been hobbled by previous budget shortfalls,” said Rep. Cecil Brown (D-Jackson).
The Republican budget would cut our local libraries by 15% or nearly $2 million. These cuts would place numerous important programs at risk, including: a) children’s reading programs which serve more than 400,000 Mississippi children, b) computer programs that serve more individuals performing job searches or completing employment applications, and c) some WIN Job Centers.
“Local libraries perform several crucial functions for our communities including introducing children to reading and helping connect people to jobs. These cuts would place many of our libraries at risk of closing their doors,” said Rep. Earle Banks (D-Jackson).
MS House/Senate Democrats & MS Democratic Trust