Gov. Barbour: Budget cuts needed, but no tax increase expected

By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - The 2010 legislative session is officially underway in Jackson. An air of excitement filled the Capitol as the session officially got underway Tuesday. But that excitement could soon turn to trepidation because everybody in the chamber knows, it will no longer be business as usual.

"We have to make some very tough decisions as to how our priorities will be laid out," State Representative Kevin Buck said.

After visiting lawmakers earlier in the day, the governor came to the coast and joined us in our studio for WLOX News at Five. Gov. Haley Barbour has his own ideas about how to cut millions from the budget, but he is willing to listen and consider just about anything.

"Not everybody is going to agree with the way I would do it," the governor told WLOX anchors Karen Abernathy and David Elliott.

"I have told people, if you think you have a better idea, more power to you; I want to hear it."

In the past, the governor and some lawmakers have locked horns on money matters. This time around, it may be different.

Some lawmakers are worried that the cuts could lead to job losses, fee increases and reduced state services. Perhaps the governor's most talked about idea to save money is to reduce the number of school districts and to merge some of the state's colleges and universities.

Although the governor would not speculate on what he thinks are the chances of an idea like that passing, he said, "I think the financial reality is such that they cannot stay independent, and this is the best way to keep the resources and the assets."

One thing the governor told WLOX, he is confident a tax increase will not be considered to gain revenue. Lawmakers and Governor Barbour will have the next few months to figure out what to cut and how much to cut. One thing is for certain, it will not be an easy task. Stay tuned, it should be interesting.

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