Budget cuts spark heated exchange between state leaders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Budget cuts spark heated exchange between state leaders

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Adding money back to the prison system has sparked fierce criticism from one member of the legislature and a strong response by the Corrections Commissioner.

In a letter to fellow lawmakers, Rep. George Flaggs compared the cost of housing inmates to the cost of educating children. Flaggs said Mississippi spends $13,828 a year to house inmates, but just a little more than $5,000 to educate students each year.

In a letter responding to Flaggs, Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps said that comparison is misleading. Epps also pointed out that Mississippi spends less per inmate than any other state.

Flaggs wrote his letter in response to Governor Haley Barbour's request that the legislature restore $16 million to the Department of Corrections budget.

Thursday Barbour praised the Senate for upholding his veto of Senate Bill 2688 that would have restored more than one-fifth of the money he has cut from the state budget.

The governor also issued a statement about the state's tight budget. It read, "We have the resources to restore funding to our priorities this year, including law enforcement and corrections; such a funding restoration bill is already in a conference committee."

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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