Leaders Discuss Current Issues

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At least one state lawmaker said he's optimistic that the plan will work. Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian was called on at Monday's Council of Governments meeting for comments about the current "Medicaid crisis" in the state.

Snowden said he is optimistic the problem will be solved.

"I believe on Sept. 15, if this is not working like it's supposed to be, we're going to extend it further and ultimately if it's not working like intended and we have people who are uncovered, we're going to put it back like it was regardless of the cost," said Snowden.

If it is put back, Snowden said the Legislature will have to find an additional $50 million.

"We had a budget deal in May. We had everything on the table. We knew the amount of money we had to spend and we made some tough choices," said Snowden. "And now, rather than giving this program time to work, some folks say let's go back and put it because they're kind of panicking. Let's go back and do it and you know that's $50 million."

Where's that $50 million?

"We're not bringing education and highways back to the table," Snowden said. "So we're talking about another $50 million deficit."

County supervisor Craig Hitt said the state's money problems are impacting the cities and counties.

"We have to realize that city and county taxes are being called on to pick up some of the areas that are not being funded by the state anymore," said Hitt.

But city councilman Dr. George Thomas said he is optimistic about the 2005 city budget.

"As far as I know, there probably will not be a tax increase in the city. We're limited to what we've got coming in," Thomas said.

Since sales tax collections are up for the city and there has been growth, there will be more for the council to budget.