Lawmakers' Job Not Done, Despite Adjournment - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/07/05

Lawmakers' Job Not Done, Despite Adjournment

"I enjoy the camaraderie that we have, but I don't enjoy the fighting and contentions that's going on in Jackson right now," Biloxi Representative Leonard Bentz says.

There has been lots of fighting among lawmakers trying to agree on a budget. And Bentz says there is plenty of blame to go around.

"When the Senate does what the House wants them to do, cut something, they say, "You didn't cut enough." And when they cut some more, the House says, "Well, we can't cut over here." You know, it's a game that's just frustrating."

Bentz and Representative Jim Simpson say it's very frustrating trying to spread $3.8 billion among all the agencies that need funding.

"We could get a tax increase and we'd still spend more than we have and we haven't become fiscally responsible. We've got to stop spending more money than we've got. Once we do that, then you look at what we don't have money for and you say, "Is that worth a tax increase?" And if it is, then you vote for it," Simpson says.

Every agency has its hand out for more money when, in reality, they could face cuts.

"The problems that we're having are changing some people, and some don't want to change. And just kicking and screaming, making people be fiscally responsible. That's the problem. We have done things in the last four or five years with one time money that we have to quit doing because there's no money for it," Simpson says.

The two representatives agree when they meet in a special session, they'll have to set priorities to determine which department deserves the most funding.

Lawmakers must set a budget by July 1st. That's the start of the next fiscal year.

byMarcia Hill

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