Gov. calls for more cuts

Lawmakers resume work next week

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS – Associated Press


Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday he wants lawmakers to be cautious with taxpayers’ money when they return next week to work on a state spending plan.

“This is a tight budget. It makes significant cuts. It can’t be executed with business as usual. And the next year’s going to be tougher,” Barbour said in releasing his revised spending recommendations for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Lawmakers normally would’ve finished their three-month annual session and set a budget by early April. They started a recess about three weeks ago because they’re hoping Congress will approve extra stimulus funding for Medicaid, including $187 million for Mississippi

The economy has been lagging and state revenues have been sluggish since mid-2008, and Barbour has made five rounds of budget cuts in the current fiscal year.

The federal Medicaid money is still pending, and neither the Republican governor nor top state lawmakers say they know whether it will be approved before the Legislature reconvenes next Tuesday.

Barbour and lawmakers have agreed to spend about $5.5 billion for the coming fiscal year, about $500 million less than during the current year. House and Senate negotiators are discussing how much money each agency or program will get.

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