JACKSON — The "efficiencies" buzzword rang across the Mississippi Capitol last summer as lawmakers met the people who provide services from maintaining the state's roads to administering the state's federal child-care funds to look for extra dollars to help stabilize the State of Mississippi's budget and supplement its slowing revenue growth.
In November, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, announced efficiencies due to new vehicle moratorium and cutting out-of-state travel they found in agency budgets, and they proposed a state budget for fiscal-year 2018 valued at $195 million less than the fiscal-year 2017 budget.
But the next fiscal year does not start until July, and agencies are strapped for cash now, with Gov. Phil Bryant cutting most of their budgets by almost 1.5 percent late last week. It was the second cut in fiscal-year 2017, bringing the reduction to 3 percent from the governor alone. Several agencies took budget cuts once already this fiscal year, back in September due to an "error."
What does this mean for state services going forward? It is impossible to tell now, but if revenue does not pick up, the agencies likely face layoffs, weakening their efforts to provide services to Mississippians.