State budget grows by almost 4 percent

By Steve Wilson
April 5, 2019

Thanks to an increased tax revenue forecasts, the Mississippi legislature will be spending more taxpayer money going into an election year.

The state’s budget adds up to $6.3 billion, a 3.83 percent increase over last year’s $6.1 billion budget.

The fiscal 2020 budget goes into effect on July 1 and will include a 3 percent pay increase for state workers, a $1,500 pay hike for teachers and increased employer contributions to the state’s defined benefit pension fund.

Mississippi’s budget process is unusual in that there is no single budget document, but a series of appropriation bills for each state agency, board and commission. The Magnolia State is one of 30 states that use an annual budget cycle.

The general fund isn’t the only funding mechanism for appropriations, as some agencies have what are known as special funds, which are funded with fees generated from licenses and other income. Federal money, such as for Medicare, isn’t part of the calculations either.

These agencies will have increased funds in fiscal 2020:

  • More than $82.1 million for K-12 education than last year’s appropriation.
  • More than $37.4 million over last year’s appropriation for the state’s universities.
  • Medicaid’s budget will climb by more than $27 million over last year’s outlay.
  • A more than $15 million increase for the Department of Public Safety to conduct a new trooper school ($4.5 million) and $3.3 million for the Driver Support Division to hire more workers and reduce wait times at driver license centers.
  • Community colleges will receive $14.3 million over last year’s appropriation.

Not every appropriation increased in the budget. Taxpayers will spend $385,241,392 next fiscal year to help retire the state’s more than $4.4 billion in debt, which is the same amount as last year.

Here are some that were actually cut when compared to outlays from last year’s budget:

  • The state Port Authority, which manages the port at Gulfport, had its appropriation cut from more than $138 million to more than $66 million. The cut of more than $70 million was in line with the authority’s funding request that reflected a more than $63 million reduction in capital outlays.
  • The state Department of Employment Security’s budget was cut by more than $14 million. This was still slightly more than the $137 million requested by the agency.
  • The Attorney General’s office’s outlay was cut by more than $653,000.

The state’s budget doesn’t include the more than $371 million in borrowing for various projects that included $45 million for Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, special states funds that are outside the general fund or federal funds.

In fiscal 2019, the budget with all general, special and federal funds included added up to $20,855.445.148, meaning the state remains the most dependent (42 percent of the budget) on federal funds.

Editor’s note: The Office of State Aid Road Construction receives its entire budget from special funds and not the general fund and its fiscal 2020 budget increased by only $103,555 over last year’s appropriation. A previous version listed a higher amount and we regret the error.


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