This comparison of state lawmakers’ and Gov. Haley Barbour’s positions on the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 was prepared by Democratic members of the state House of Representatives with information from an updated budget proposal that Barbour released on Monday.
K-12 Public Education: House and Senate members voted to fund K-12 education at $2.2 billion next year, the same amount as this year. Barbour wants to cut the funds by $30 million, which would include $6 million to reimburse teachers for supplies and $24 million from school operating expenses and teacher salaries.
Vocational-Technical Education: House and Senate members voted to fund vo-tech education at $78 million, the same amount as this year. Barbour wants to cut the money by $4.4 million, jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal matching funds.
Community Colleges: House and Senate members voted to fund community colleges at $233 million next year, about $10 million more than this year. Barbour vetoed the bill; he wants to cut the community college funds by $7 million.
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State Universities: House members voted to fund state universities at $417 million, slightly below this year’s funding. Barbour wants to cut the state universities’ funds by another $10 million.
Agriculture Program: House members voted to fund agriculture units at Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University at a total of $75 million. Barbour wants to cut the agriculture unit funds by $5.4 million.
Mental Health: House members voted to fund mental health at $252 million, including $20 million to operate community mental health facilities. Barbour wants to fund mental health at $235 million, including the same $20 million.
Mississippi Public Broadcasting: House members voted to fund MPB at $7.5 million, the same amount as this year. Barbour wants to cut the MPB money by $1.5 million.
State Library Commission: House members voted to fund the Mississippi Library Commission at $12 million, the same amount as this year.
Barbour wants to cut the library commission funds by $2.4 million, money used for salaries and benefits for local librarians.
Homestead Exemption: House members voted to fund homestead exemption at $87 million. Barbour wants to cut the homestead exemption funds by $12 million, which will lead to higher property taxes on homes.
State Retirement: The House voted to protect the Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi. The Senate originally voted to halt funding of PERS if the agency increased the state contribution to the program during the next fiscal year, which would shut down the agency and stop retiree checks. Barbour and the Senate backed off the provision, but now want to create a study commission to look at the retirement system and suggest changes. The House opposes the study commission.
Balanced Budget: The House has approved a balanced budget using a combination of general funds and revenues from other sources. House budget leaders are working n a budget plan that would leave the state $237 million in cash reserves.