Journalist Sid Salter elaborated on the budget crisis facing Mississippi legislators at the Meridian Rotary Club meeting Monday.
The topics included education, Medicaid and the estimated $950 million deficit and a means of solving the problem.
"It's going to take a combination of cutting spending and raising new revenue. Probably cigarette taxes increasing from 60 cents to one dollar," said Salter. "In terms of new revenue, some fee increases and then they are going to have to make some substantial cuts in Medicaid, along with a five percent across the board cut in spending."
Salter also said that the state's bond rating is in danger from borrowing to much money.
On the eve of a legislative deadline that determines which bills live or die, State Treasurer Tate reeves is urging lawmakers to ensure that the Budget Reform Act of 2005 survives to get full consideration by the Legislature.
"Mississippi is facing a fiscal crisis," said Reeves. "Much of the blame lies with our broken budgeting process. It was designed for a different era and forces good people to make bad decisions. We need to modernize our budget process or we’ll be faced with the same problems every time there is a downturn."
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