Governor calls special session Tuesday to balance budget

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Gov. Phil Bryant

Gov. Phil Bryant

Lawmakers will travel to Jackson Tuesday for a special legislative session to help Gov. Phil Bryant balance the state’s fiscal year 2016 budget.

The special session comes after lower-than-expected revenue was collected throughout the year, including in the month of June, which is the last month of the fiscal year. Balancing the 2016 budget is the only item that will be considered by the Legislature this week.

Bryant said on the Gallo Radio Show on SuperTalk Monday morning he will pull between $50-70 million from the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget.

“Disciplined and conservative spending by Republican leadership the last five legislative sessions has left the Rainy Day Fund in the perfect position to fill the small deficit in the FY16 budget,” Bryant said in a release. “I would urge lawmakers to complete their work quickly, to keep taxpayers’ costs as low as possible.”Mississippi_State_Capitol_building

To date, the state’s Rainy Day Fund has about $349.7 million. It is unclear exactly how much the governor will need to pull as June revenue will continue to be collected this month, but Bryant called it a “small deficit” and a “less than one percent” deficit in a press release.

“We are talking about one percent of the overall approximated $6.3 billion budget,” House Speaker Philip Gunn said in the release. “To put this in perspective: if someone makes $30,000 a year, we are talking about a shortfall of $300.”

Bryant already has pulled $45.2 million from the Rainy Day Fund this fiscal year to offset lower-than-expected revenue, but he only has the legal authority to pull $50 million per fiscal year from that fund.

Since more than $4.8 million will be needed from that fund to balance the budget, the Legislature will have to sign off on that action in the special session.

The special session will cost taxpayers $68,720 for one day of work, said Laura Hipp, spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. If the special session goes beyond the first day, it will cost the state an additional $47,674.

“Gov. Bryant, Speaker Gunn and I agree that the best way to address this shortfall is through a transfer from the Working Cash Stabilization Reserve Fund (Rainy Day Fund), and I expect this to be quickly resolved in the special session to minimize costs for taxpayers,” Reeves said.