Budget Bill Faces Uncertain Future

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A Mississippi House of Representatives budget bill passed on Thursday apparently faces trouble in the Senate. The Lauderdale County delegation was split.

The bill was designed to find money for the public schools, teacher raises and the state's insurance programs. It borrows from some funds, raises fees, makes certain cuts that in total amount to almost $674 million.

"I thought about those people back home that has been working and all of a sudden here it is their insurance was going to be basically reduced as far as getting the cost is concerned," said Rep. Charles Young of Meridian, who voted in favor of the bill. "And when they were talking about the elimination of certain jobs that were in the community, it would have been impossible for me to realize all the changes taking place."

"The bill we voted on Thursday is just a bad bill. It's got tax increases in it. We don't have to have tax increases and the big problem with the bill it doesn't address the overspending problem we have in Mississippi," said Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian, who voted against it. "It makes many assumptions about revenues that just are not supported by any fact. It goes into the Tobacco Trust Fund principal by taking the increase in capitalization of it. It's just a bad piece of legislation."

Sen. Jack Gordon, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee was equally critical. He called the bill a "house of cards". Gordon criticized proposals like higher fees that he sees as tax increases, borrowed funds to support recurring expenses and unrealistic estimates of savings to be produced by the plan.