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Next fiscal year, Gov. Phil Bryant wants to spend more money on a new public education formula but less money on nearly every other faction of state government.
Bryant listed dozens of proposals in his annual budget recommendation ahead of the 2017 legislative session. The report, though it chronicles his spending desires, does not mandate lawmakers take any action.
The $5.7 billion proposal feeds into his long-standing effort to decrease spending and the influence of government on the lives of average Mississippians.
“Ultimately, a budget reflects priorities, and this budget represents how I believe government can use taxpayer resources to help move Mississippi forward,” Bryant said in the report. “I recognize that not everything in this proposal will ultimately be adopted.”
The public education formula, which New Jersey-based EdBuild is in the process of evaluating and possibly rewriting with lawmakers, would receive an additional $16.4 million – a slight increase of 0.7 percent from last fiscal year – under Bryant’s proposal.
However, a 9.5 percent cut to general education programs and a 6.9 percent cut to the Chickasaw interest program means overall K-12 spending would increase just $33,351, which is almost level-funded from the current fiscal year’s amount,
The governor recommended cutting “most agencies” by 1.8 percent, citing spending increases for those agencies over the past five fiscal years.
Bryant also said he wants to pursue privatization in government, including the consolidation of some agencies or departments, though he did not mention specific agencies.
Throughout the report, Bryant praised Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn for their work this year, including their efforts to restructure the state’s tax code and public education spending formula.
“Lt. Gov. Reeves and his staff are reviewing Gov. Bryant’s proposals, and he looks forward to working with him to find efficiencies in agencies so the state can fund its priorities like public education, child protective services and public safety,” said Laura Hipp, spokeswoman for Reeves.
Other key proposals from Bryant:
• Protect “core functions of government,” maintaining level-funding for public safety, military, veterans’ affairs, emergency management, prosecutors and community colleges
• Expand performance-based budgeting, giving spending preference to agencies and departments which benefit the state the greatest.
• Consider implementing a state lottery, which the Department of Revenue estimates can bring the state an additional $88 million to $100 million per year. The governor would be “adamantly opposed” to spending any potential lottery revenues on any single agency, department or budget line item.
• Alleviate problems from 2016 law that swept many special funds into the state’s general fund, creating headaches for numerous agency heads since the law was passed in April. Bryant said he formed a committee this fall to assess problems from the law, and that committee would present its findings to lawmakers during the 2017 legislative session.
• Save for future, including stuffing $57 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund (the largest reserve fund), and placing $109 million in BP oil spill settlement funds into a new reserve fund that can be used for future Gulf Coast projects.
• Cut budget of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, which Bryant says will “help MPB become more self-sustainable” and fulfill its goal of becoming “less dependent on support from the state.”
• Avoid using one-time money for recurring expenses and reduce reliance on borrowing and debt.
• Discuss adding a third Medicaid provider to the Division of Medicaid.
• Increase spending on Child Protection Services by $13.4 million, or an increase of 13.6 percent from FY17.
Mississippi Today reporters Zachary Oren Smith and Larrison Campbell contributed to this report.