SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Could the Department of Marine Resources budget be slashed 75 percent next year?
That's what Joint Legislative Budget Committee is recommending, but the House Appropriations Committee Chairman says no one should be alarmed. Representative John Read says that despite the committee's recommendation to cut nearly $3 million from DMRs fiscal year 2018 budget, the agency won't suffer.
"There was some one time money run through there. We gave it to them [DMR] and we passed it through. If you go back three or four years, you see we are about where we were with DMR," Read said.
Read says the extra money in the DMR budget funded coastal flood mapping to resolve questions about flooding during Hurricane Katrina, and to plan for future hurricane preparedness.
The report released Thursday by the Legislative Budget Committee outlines millions of dollars in budget cuts to state agencies. It also includes a number of budget tightening measures such as a moratorium on vehicle purchases, drastic cuts for out-of-state travel, and deleting and defunding most vacant state jobs.
Read says budget writers had to make some tough choices.
"We're just not seeing the growth as we had hoped. We are budgeting conservatively. If we get some growth, we can plug some holes," Read said.
One of the tough choices lawmakers have made is not to add any money to the Hurricane Disaster Reserve Fund.
"It doesn't make sense if you've got it just sitting there. As tight as our budget is that money could be working somewhere else," Read said.
If the need arises, Read said lawmakers would find money for storm restoration.