- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Lawmakers are starting to work on a Mississippi budget for the year that begins July 1.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets Thursday and Friday in Jackson. Members will hear funding requests from the Department of Education, the Division of Medicaid and a few other agencies.

Legislators used to hold extensive budget hearings throughout September to hear from large and small departments. The schedule has been shortened in recent years.

The 14-member Budget Committee will release funding recommendations in November. All 122 members of the House and 52 senators will have a chance to vote on a final spending plan by April, if the process runs on schedule.

The current state budget is just over $6 billion. A multi-year tax cut package is starting to take effect, and Republican legislative leaders have said they want to either reduce government spending or slow down the rate of spending growth.

The Legislative Budget Office website has information about most agencies’ budget requests.

Among those seeking more money for coming year are the Department of Public Safety, which requested an additional 14.2 percent; and the Department of Corrections, which requested an additional 6.1 percent.

The Department of Child Protective Services received a significant budget increase, from $182 million last year to $304 million in the current year. For the coming year, the department is requesting $249 million, which would be a 17.9 percent decrease.

Five of the eight public universities are seeking slight increases in spending, ranging from less than 1 percent at Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi to 3 percent at the University of Southern Mississippi. The three historically black universities are seeking decreases of about 2 to 3 percent.

The Department of Education is requesting almost an 11 percent increase for its largest budget category - the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, a funding formula designed to give schools enough money to meet midlevel academic standards. However, the formula has been shortchanged most years since it was put into law in 1997.


Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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