Budget to Be Top Priority

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A top legislator says tough decisions about the state budget will dominate the 2005 session. Sen. Terry Burton of Newton says the session is going to be all about the money, or lack thereof. He spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Capitol press corps and Mississippi State University's John C. Stennis Institute of Government.

Burton is a member of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which meets later this week to set a revenue estimate, the basic number used to write a budget for the fiscal year that starts next July 1.

The current year's general fund is about $3.6 billion. To set next year's estimate, committee members and Gov. Haley Barbour will examine economic trends and recent state tax-collection figures.

Burton says state agencies have requested between $500 million and $900 million more than they received this year, but there's not expected to be nearly that much growth in the budget.

That will leave legislators with tough choices: Cut state services or raise taxes.

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