Budget Impasse Will Affect Agencies


A three-judge panel declared its preference for a Democrat-preferred redistricting map late last week, potentially lining up the Mississippi Republican Party as antagonists at a May 10 hearing in Jackson.

State agencies could be shutting down soon if the Mississippi Legislature can't come to an agreement on the state budget. A small contingent of lawmakers made up of three House and three Senate members plus a handful of others including Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, have been working toward an agreement, but as yet, have produced no results.

Reportedly, the special committee agreed Friday on a figure for elementary and secondary education: $2.6 billion, according to the Starkville Daily News, which is more than the funds in the 2009 budget.

"Education should be the least concerned about funding ... education is in good shape," said District 23 State Rep. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, to the paper last week. "Education is going to be fully funded."

Included in that figure is full funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which equalizes funding between prosperous and poor school districts, ensuring every school has the funds to meet accreditation standards.

Nothing in the 2010 budget is set in stone, however, according to the story.

Nancy Loome, executive director of The Parents' Campaign, a grass-roots organization aimed at promoting public schools, said superintendents and faculty members should not yet breathe easy.

"There have been times in weeks past when we thought we had an agreement on the education budget, only to see it fall apart. It is, therefore, important to continue to press our state's leaders to come to agreement on the full budget and to move into special session so that the conference report can be adopted by the legislature and signed by the governor," Loome said in a statement Saturday.

"I am getting calls from panicky teachers who need to know if they should seek jobs elsewhere and from local school superintendents who are desperate to know whether they can issue contracts, repair and replace leaky roofs, construct computer labs, and move forward with other projects that would improve the education offered Mississippi children. We need a budget now."

Meanwhile, Gov. Haley Barbour has appeared everywhere but Mississippi. After reports that he was responsible for rejecting a budget agreement several times in the past weeks, Barbour showed up in Iowa, New Hampshire and New York, and this week he's off to France for the Paris Air Show. Barbour will need to call a special session to get the budget resolved.


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