Budget Answers Remain Elusive

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Mississippi lawmakers are approaching the middle of the 2005 legislative session, and they're barely closer to solving the state's budget problems now than they were five weeks ago. People waiting for answers shouldn't hold their breath.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Gordon says he won't unveil some of his ideas until March, shortly before the budget-writing deadline. When asked about some of the fiscal challenges, he said, "Everything is creating problems."

Medicaid, debt service, education; the list of demands is long and the funding options are few.

Gov. Haley Barbour says he opposes any new taxes, and many in the Senate agree with him. While the Senate has been slow to unveil a comprehensive budget plan, the House is moving forward with proposals to cut some services and raise new money through taxes and fees.