State Agencies Trimmed Five Percent

By: Ashley Porter Email
By: Ashley Porter Email

Mississippi is about to feel the effects of over $100 million in budget cuts. Gov. Haley Barbour made the announcement Thursday, saying he's required by law to find a way to keep the state's budget balanced.

Federal stimulus money has helped with that increase.

"We're going to be $175 million to $350 million short for the fiscal year as a whole," said Barbour. "Because of these shortfalls, I am ordering $171.9 million in spending cuts."

The order cuts spending for most state agencies by up to five percent.
Revenue collected by the state has been lower than expected.

Several departments are exempt from the cuts, including Medicaid and the Department of Corrections. But several parents tell us they're disappointed with the cuts made to education.

"The approach the governor has taken is a very simplistic approach," said
Nancy Loome, executive director of the Parents' Campaign. "It does not prioritize and it doesn't look into the future to see what the long-term impact will be."

Education was mostly spared from cuts during this year's budget process.
Now the system will have to cut back a full five percent.

"It's not possible to make meaningful reductions in state spending and keep education untouchable," said Barbour.

Under the plan, no cuts will be made to student financial aid of national board certification teacher pay.

But even with those restrictions, commissioner of higher education, Dr. Hank Bounds, said the state higher education goals "are not unattainable, but it is absolutely clear that we cannot continue to operate business as usual. In this economy, reaching these goals will undoubtedly require us to be more efficient."

"Financially, we have a budget storm on the horizon. We can't avoid the storm, but we know the best thing is to prepare early, act early," the governor said.

Barbour said, even with the cuts, education spending will be $20 million higher than it was last year.

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