- Associated Press - Saturday, April 16, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on budget negotiations among Mississippi legislators (all times local):

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9 p.m.

Mississippi legislators say they’d reached an overall bargain the slightly lowers state spending, but they’re buying time to haggle more over borrowing and tax cuts.

Lawmakers released no specific numbers, although a Senate staffer said state money would total $6.13 billion in the budget, about $20 million below the amount left after Gov. Phil Bryant imposed 1.5 percent midyear cuts on many agencies in January. Lawmakers originally budgeted $6.19 million for this year.



House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith says Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is unlikely to allow a bond bill to go forward if House negotiators don’t agree to a tax cut. House members say they’re also trying to get Reeves to borrow more money to meet university needs. Placeholder bills were filed on those subjects Saturday.

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3 p.m.

Top budget writers say they will allot enough money to keep Mississippi’s K-12 school funding formula level in the budget year beginning July 1, but that other agencies can expect cuts.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Buck Clarke made the comments Saturday afternoon after instructing committee members to wrap up talks on $6.2 billion in budget bills to fund education, health care, prisons, mental health and other state functions.

The pair said that because lawmakers agreed Friday to lower the revenue forecast for the 2017 budget, they had to cut $73 million from spending plans.

Lawmakers must also agree by Saturday night on how much the state will borrow for construction projects.

The House and Senate must ratify spending and borrowing plans by Monday.

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11 a.m.

Mississippi legislators are meeting Saturday ahead of a deadline to reach agreements on spending and borrowing for the upcoming budget year beginning July 1.

Lawmakers agreed Friday to projections that they will have roughly $6.2 billion to spend in the upcoming budget, roughly equal to the current budget year.

Legislators will need more money to pay for court-mandated foster care reforms and the growing expenses of the Medicaid program. That means other agency budgets are likely to be cut, although it’s not yet clear how reductions will be distributed.

Friday, budget writers said they wanted to avoid cutting K-12 education money.

Lawmakers must also agree by Saturday night on how much the state will borrow for construction projects.

The House and Senate must ratify spending and borrowing plans by Monday.

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