Legislators Want Session Postponed for Education Funds | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Legislators Want Session Postponed for Education Funds


Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, warns that cuts mandated by Gov. Barbour's budget means stiff cuts to education and possible property tax increases.

The Mississippi Legislature should suspend negotiations on the 2011 budget for three weeks until lawmakers know whether the state will receive an additional $150 million in federal money, Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said today. Speaking at a rally in support of education funding, Brown said that the U.S. Congress is poised to pass an extension of the Medicaid assistance in the 2008 federal-stimulus package. This additional money, which would increase the federal government's contribution to state Medicaid expenses, would free up funds for education.

"We need to find out whether the additional federal matching money will be available," Brown said. 'We won't know that for about three weeks. The plan the Senate leadership and the House leadership came together on over the weekend was to recess, come back towards the end of April--once we knew about that federal funding--and then put a budget together."

A proposal to suspend the legislative session is currently stalled in the House Rules Committee due to Republican opposition, Brown said.

The Senate has already passed an appropriations bill for education that plans for the additional federal Medicaid funds. Passed last week, the Senate bill calls on the state to spend $50 million of the potential $150 million on K-12 education. Nine Senate Republicans broke party ranks to join Democrats in approving the appropriations bill, which would also would give $30 million more to K-12 education than supported by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo. House and Senate negotiators will likely begin negotiations on a compromise bill this week.

Today's rally comes in the wake of further budget cuts to K-12 education by Gov. Haley Barbour and in anticipation of budget negotiations between the House and Senate.

Barbour slashed all state agency budgets by an additional 1 percent March 17 in response to a revised revenue estimate for the fiscal year. The governor has said that legislators devising the state's budget for 2011 should set aside 2 percent of expected revenues, roughly $89 million, in case revenues fall short of expectations, as they have this year.

That demand has drawn the ire of some House Democrats, including Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, who released a statement today calling on Barbour to issue a revised 2011 budget recommendation without the 2 percent set-aside.

"The 2 percent Governor Haley wants to hold back belongs to the tax payers of Mississippi," Flaggs said in the statement. "2 percent of the tax payers money is collected, but not appropriated for budget. That money is just sitting in the bank doing nothing, while Mississippians are being laid off and unable to feed their families."

Previous Comments


A proposal to suspend the legislative session is currently stalled in the House Rules Committee due to Republican opposition, Brown said. The House Rules Committee has 13 members. Only five are Republicans. It is unfortunate that Mr. Brown couldn't have owned up to that fact.


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