Lawmakers Head Back

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The 2003 regular session for the Mississippi Legislature is ready to begin. Lawmakers like Sen. Videt Carmichael are already working on possibly the biggest issue of the year, the state budget.

"The big thing's going to be the budget," said Carmichael. "As you know, the economy is sluggish right now and we need to make sure that everything is funded. But at the same time we don't need to be raising taxes or anything of that nature."

The state's financial problems stem from this year's already overdrawn budget and the shape of the economy. The task for legislators now is to find ways to make ends meet.

"We need to go through each big state agency and make sure the money's being spent wisely," Carmichael said. "If we do that we can find things to cut that won't cut goods and services and things we need to be doing as a state."

Money is not all lawmakers have on their minds. Education is at the forefront as well.

Rep. Charles Young of Meridian is the chairman of the Universities and Colleges Committee.

"I think education will be a high priority of the session. I think that some phases of education, K-12 we will get some attention," Young said.

Other issues like healthcare, insurance, and party switching will likely come up, but there is little talk about taxes this election year.

"I don't expect any tax increase," said Young. "Right now we have not been studying any tax increases. Mississippi is not known to overtax its people. Right now, if new taxes were brought on, it would be some form of overtaxing the people."

Regardless of expectations, only time will tell how productive this session will be.