Gov. Phil Bryant outlined his priorities for fiscal year 2013 in a revised Executive Budget Recommendation sent to legislators Tuesday. This comes after the Joint Legislative Budget Committee announced last week a $128 million increase to Mississippi's fiscal year 2013 revenue estimate.
"It is encouraging to see a small increase in Mississippi's revenue estimate, and I am also hopeful that the increase is both justified and sustainable. We must still allocate our resources using sound, conservative guidelines," Gov. Bryant said. "Saving for the future is imperative, and fund increases should be appropriated to the state's highest priorities, such as education, public safety and job creation."
In keeping with the savings principles outlined in his original budget, Bryant's supplemental budget forwards $60 million to fiscal year 2014 as savings to bolster the state's revenue in that year. This, combined with savings outlined in the governor's full budget will allow Mississippi to begin fiscal year 2014 with a safety net of about $156 million to insulate against deep cuts and funding cliffs.
Gov. Bryant has identified public safety among the top priorities of government, and his updated budget provides $3 million to the Mississippi Highway Patrol to provide for the recurring needs of the 51 new troopers who graduated last year's cadet school. The budget also provides level funding to most other law enforcement and military line items, including the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Gov. Bryant's updated budget also directs an additional $73 million to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and level-funds state support for both IHL and Community College Support.
"As I stated in February after the Department of Revenue announced an increase in individual income collections, I would support increasing spending in priority areas if the trend in revenue increase continued," Gov. Bryant said. "These additional funds will eliminate the need for school districts to contribute money from their reserve balances, and districts can now either retain those funds on-hand or spend them down to exceed level funding."
Additional highlights of Gov. Bryant's updated Executive Budget Recommendation:
· Level-funds the Homestead Exemption at fiscal year 2012 levels to provide tax relief for Mississippi homeowners.
· $250,000 to the Office of the State Auditor to provide the resources for the auditor and his staff to audit state spending against existing statutory performance measures.
· A reduction in the funding decrease to most agencies' state appropriations from 5.53 percent to 1.73 percent.
· $31.5 million to the Division of Medicaid to offset the reduction in the federal match or "FMAP" paid to Mississippi for certain Medicaid expenditures