Legislative Budget Committee Conducts Hearings

By: Ashley Porter Email
By: Ashley Porter Email

This week, state lawmakers will hear from dozens of state agencies, as they start to plan next year's budget. But with financial challenges, not all the requests can be fulfilled.

"Our courthouses wouldn't be open to serve the public," said Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr.

A startling message from the Mississippi Supreme Court, as it strives to guarantee funding next year for courts across the state.

"If we're not able to make this funding up, we're going to be laying off staff attorneys," said Waller. "There's no other place to put it."

Like many agencies this week, the court is giving a budget to lawmakers and hoping for the best.

"Our appropriation for the last fiscal year was cut about 7%," said Waller.

The judicial branch request doesn't call for raises but it asks to restore cuts suffered this year and for nearly two million dollars to be moved around to fill a "serious, immediate need" in the judiciary.

"We are hopeful that cooler minds will prevail and that we will be adequately funded," Waller said.

"We're assisting the agencies as their human resource core," said Lynn Fitch, executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board.

The state's personnel board also appealed to lawmakers Monday, promoting the idea of cutting costs by changing paper job applications to online forms.

"This is going to allow agencies to give us job orders and that one job order is going to allow a bigger talent pool," said Fitch.

But that idea doesn't settle well with everyone.

"There are people who don't know how to use computers, and that's a lot of people in this state," said Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville.

"Well there's also the call center," said Fitch. "We'll be in libraries and WIN job centers and then there's a call center too."

"Well, I don't like that," said Holland.

Lawmakers will hear from seven state departments Tuesday.

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