Lawmakers finalize ‘flat’ FY 2019 state budget

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Legislators on Tuesday finalized the state’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which will feature little change to appropriations for most state agencies.

Lawmakers passed the $6.1 billion budget, which marks a 0.37 percent increase from the current fiscal year’s budget.

Mississippi Today

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves

“Generally speaking, most state agencies will see year-over-year numbers that are flat,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves had told reporters on Saturday night.

Click here to view the entire Fiscal Year 2019 general fund budget.

Revenues for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, have come in higher than projected, giving lawmakers a bit of a cushion to craft next year’s budget. Additionally, lawmakers received a $32 million cash infusion from the Attorney General’s Office from court settlements the office has won on behalf of the state.

Legislators worked through the weekend to finalize the budget after the state economist on Friday revised upward his forecast for expected revenue.

Earlier this week, legislative leaders cited a $12 million increase for K-12 education for next fiscal year. But that $12 million increase for next fiscal year is only realized when compared to earlier legislative budget recommendations. When compared to the current fiscal year spending, K-12 education will see just a $4.2 million increase.

Child Protection Services, which was spun off into a standalone agency just two years ago as part of a federal court order, was folded back under the Department of Human Services. Legislative leaders hadn’t realized that separating the agencies would decrease the match rate for CPS on federal funds. The compromise, creating it as a sub-agency of DHS, will allow it to qualify for a higher match rate while still complying with the earlier court order. 

The Department of Human Services will receive $18 million, or 35 percent, more than last year, while Child Protection Services, operating as a separate budget item, will receive $12 million, or 12 percent, more than last fiscal year.

“Not only is that (the Child Protection Services increase) going to help federal funds, but we anticipate the $18 million increase (to Department of Human Services) will also be used to draw down federal funds,” Reeves said.

The Department of Health and Department of Mental Health – two agencies that have been cut considerably the past three fiscal years – both saw modest increases for next year. The Department of Health will receive $2 million, or 4 percent, more next year, while the Department of Mental Health will receive $238,433 more next year.

Two of the largest year-over-year agency general fund cuts, the Department of Finance and Administration and Information Technology Services, will be offset by a change made this session to allow the two agencies to charge other state agencies for services provided. A 2016 law had limited their ability to charge for services.

Lawmakers failed to pass a new public education funding formula this session, which forced them to again fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. They steered $3 million, or 0.14 percent, more to the fund for next fiscal year.

Notable cuts:

• Mississippi Developmental Authority: $9 million, or -29 percent

• Department of Archives and History: $2.5 million, or -21 percent (reflecting a return to normal funding following the opening of the Two Museums in December)

• Division of Medicaid: $2 million, or -0.19 percent

• Secretary of State: $532,497, or -4 percent

• Institutions of Higher Learning: $266,781, or -0.04 percent

Notable increases:

• K-12 total: $4 million, or 0.17 percent

• Mississippi Adequate Education Program: $3 million, or 0.14 percent

• Department of Health: $2 million, or 4 percent

• Department of Public Safety total: $2 million, or 3 percent

• Department of Corrections: $6 million, or 2 percent

• Department of Rehabilitation Services: $4 million, or 17 percent

• Department of Revenue: $4 million, or 11 percent

Contributing: Larrison Campbell