Mississippi's legislature along with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour continue to focus on the problems surrounding the state's budget. Many different proposals have been made to try to balance the budget. The most recent being to permanently cut legislators' pay and temporarily reduce the size of the senate and the house. Governor Haley Barbour recently made a third cut to the state's budget. He also proposed a fourth cut. Senator Terry C. Burton of District 31 talked with our John Johnson and says extreme measures do need to be taken.
"I don't think the governor is going too far. I think the governor's bound by the constitution and his authority as chief executive of the state to do what's necessary to balance the budget. I do think he needs more authority to do those things. And I would like to be able to see us try to reinstate some of those cuts after they've been made, but I don't think he's gone too far in making the cuts to begin with," says Senator Burton.
Many legislators propose using rainy day funds to help with the budget problem. Senator Burton however, does not. He believes some funds need to be considered for next year's budget.
"I'm talking about the rainy day fund, the healthcare trust fund, all kinds of funds out there that people want to raid to pay for this year. Well, that's all and good, but what are we going to do for next year. We've really got a major budget next year, even more so than this."
Because of the state's tight squeeze on the budget, government agencies will likely feel the pain of that hold the most. Senator Burton says there are specific agencies that will feel the pain more so than others.
"Medicaid, public health, mental health, public safety, corrections, those are the areas of government that are going to be hit the hardest," says Senator Burton.
Now education receives a large portion of the state's budget and will likely see cuts. Either way, Senator Burton says education will be a top priority for the state.
"As long as we can have school, have school in decent buildings, have school with good teachers teaching the classes, and have transportation to and from home for those children, that's what we have to focus on is that classroom attention for the next two or three years."