Lt. Governor Tate Reeves on Budget Woes
State lawmakers now face a $56.8 million challenge after a staff error over-projected the state budget. News 25’s Kristen Durand asked Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves about the shortfall.
A $56.8 million mistake now looms over the state Legislature, a mistake that Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves refers to as a staff error that caused our state law makers to overestimate how much money the state could collect during fiscal year 2017. “In the overall scheme of things, it is less than one percent of the total general fund budget. It’s less than four-tenths of one percent of the total dollar spent in state government. So, we’ll deal with that when we come in, we’ve have approximately $500 million in reserves,” said Reeves.
But the shortfall and how it could affect the state’s credit rating in the interim concerns State Treasurer Lynn Fitch. Reeves says the shortfall could disappear if tax collections exceed expectations the first half of fiscal year 2017.
Meanwhile, some state agencies are complaining about current budget cuts. Reeves says the number of state agencies complaining about the amount of money they received is all part of the process and so is prioritizing. “What we prioritize is public education. K through 12 didn’t take a budget cut, community colleges didn’t take a budget cut and institutes of higher learning didn’t take a budget cut. In fact, they were all basically level funded.”
One of the state agencies taking a hit is the State Department of Mental Health. Mississippi will now lose all of its state operated programs to help men break addiction to drugs and alcohol. “Their total state support was cut $4.1 million last year. Their total expenses that were removed from their budget is $5.2 million so they don’t have to pay rent this year, they don’t have to pay expenses for lawyers. They don’t have to pay expenses for IT services and so the net positive to the Department of Mental Health’s budget is actually $1.1 million this year. They’re cutting services because they’re choosing to spend money on other things,” said Reeves.