The Mississippi legislature released its proposed fiscal year 2021 budget Wednesday, which will cut $93.7 million from last year’s total in state funds.

Last year, lawmakers appropriated $6.36 billion on the state budget, a figure that balloons to $21.52 billion when federal funds are considered. 

This year’s proposed 2021 budget would reduce that to $6.27 billion (state funds) and $21.19 billion with federal funds included. 

These funds include the general fund, Education Enhancement, Health Care Expendable, and Tobacco Control funds. Just the general fund alone is $4.9 million less than last year’s appropriations.

Legislators will also have $100.3 million more to appropriate, as the state’s tax revenue collections as evidenced by the November revenue report, are $135.5 million above the revenue estimate for this year’s budget.

Among the recommended appropriations in the proposed budget include:

  • $18.5 million to fund the teacher pay raise shortfall (deficit appropriation) due to the Mississippi Department of Education’s underestimate of the number of raise-eligible teachers due to problems with their computer system. 
  • $4.4 million for a new 60-graduate state trooper school. These new troopers will hit the road in fiscal year 2021.
  • A $977,415 increase for the Department of Public Safety to fund officer pay increases.

The JLBC also recommends that the state defund most vacant positions and delete 3,406 of those unfilled jobs while reducing funding for travel and contractual services. The state’s so-called “rainy day” fund, known as the Working Cash Stabilization Reserve Funds, is up to $678 million. 

By law, lawmakers have to set aside two percent of state tax revenue each year to keep the fund filled and protect vital government services from revenue shortfalls during economic downturns.

The 2021 proposed budget would provide a slight increase for K-12 education ($9.54 million or 0.37 percent) from last year’s outlay and reduce the appropriation for the state’s universities by $18.1 million (2.56 percent). 

Community colleges would also take a $9.1 million cut from the 2020 budget (3.61 percent cut).

The recommendation by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee isn’t binding and the real number won’t be known until the session’s end in May, when the appropriation bills for each agency are passed into law by the legislature. The fiscal 2021 budget won’t go into effect until July 1.

In Mississippi, the way the budget process works is state agencies submit budget requests by August 1. 

The JLBC meets every September to hear agency heads make their pitches for their budget requests and to also receive estimates of the state’s tax revenues.

The JLBC meets in November to put together a budget and later releases the budget blueprint in December

The governor also submits a proposed budget as well.