Senate leaders release proposed budget - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Senate leaders release proposed budget

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As the numbers Mississippi can operate on begin to become more of the conversation, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves along with Senate appropriations chairman, Senator Buck Clarke, are laying out a budget plan for the Senate.  

"Our budget sets priorities," said Reeves.

Under that budget, which would begin July first, those priorities start with education. The proposed budget would give a $23 million increase to K-12 education while keeping level funding for community colleges and universities.

Medicaid is also set to get level funding while a two percent set-a-side of the general fund would be back in place after being waived during the last few years.  

"We're trying to put forth a prudent budget that brings everything up to that 2012 level and that most agencies can handle," said Clarke, a Republican from Hollandale.

Clarke says going into budget meetings with a full budget in front of lawmakers provides for a better process rather then trying to hammer it all out in pieces. As the Senate works to come up with final numbers, lawmakers in the other chamber are doing the same.  

"We will still look at the House plan from a process standpoint. It's still likely most of these bills will go to conference and we'll work out what differences there may be," said Reeves.

Earlier this week, the state got some good financial news. Higher than expected revenue collections allowed lawmakers to increase the current budget by almost $100 million. Next year's also got an increase, by almost $130 million. Reeves and Clarke say while it works in the state's favor, cuts are still coming.  

"While we are seeing a slowly improving economy and slight increases in revenue, it is just that. It is slow and it is slight," said Reeves.

Reeves says reasonable caution in spending is a part of the proposed budget, which now finds itself at the table with lawmakers who must give it approval.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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