The Clarion-Ledger, 2/22/9

Some Mississippi lawmakers are complaining that prisoners get priority over college students in a proposed state budget that increases funding for the Department of Corrections.

The approval of appropriations bills in the House and Senate last week starts the process for developing a $5 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Most funding bills approved in the Senate will change after officials determine how much federal stimulus money Mississippi will receive and where it can be spent.

A bill passed Friday in the Senate would provide $357 million to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, about $10 million more than what the agency received for the current fiscal year.

The funding bill for general support of state universities was $11 million below what the institutions received this year. State support for junior and community colleges was cut by $2.4 million.