Lawmakers Closer to Balanced Budget | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Lawmakers Closer to Balanced Budget

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Gov. Haley Barbour will give his annual State of the State address tonight.

State legislators have reached a budget compromise, ending a months-long impasse days before the end of the fiscal year. House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement late Sunday on a roughly $5 billion budget for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The agreement includes a $60 million assessment on Mississippi hospitals, which will help fund a Medicaid shortfall.

House negotiators had called for a lower hospital tax of $50 million, while Senate negotiators initially sided with Gov. Haley Barbour in demanding a $90 million assessment.

The deal is not final, however. With the regular legislative session expired, Barbour must call legislators back for a special session. Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said that the governor will release a statement on the compromise later today. Without an approved budget in place by July 1, state agencies cannot spend any funds, meaning government employees could go unpaid.

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