Concerns about impending budget crisis
With just over two weeks left in the 2017 Legislative Session, senators spent last week debating and voting on various appropriation and revenue bills in preparation for the final determination of the state budget. We are anticipating another revenue estimate in the next few days, and, when it does, the FY2018 will likely be adjusted even further. We voted to send the pending Appropriations bills to conference committees due, in part, to the uncertainty of the revenue.
On Tuesday, House Democratic Leader David Baria and I, along with several senators and representatives, met with the media to express our concern for what we believe is an impending budget crisis. No matter what the revenue estimate says, during the current fiscal year, the state has suffered a shortfall of over $133 million. We believe that this is because of tax cut and tax credit giveaways that have been granted over the last few years. It is becoming more and more obvious that many of these were enacted without any thought of the cumulative effect of the actions.
We termed the crisis “The Elephant in the Room,” because there has been no meaningful discussion about the issue and, even after three rounds of cuts and transfers this fiscal year alone, GOP leaders still deny that there is any reason for concern. Our data, compiled from several sources including the Department of Revenue and Legislative Budget Office, show the State’s General Fund is slated for a revenue loss of over $400 million per year, once all the approved giveaways are fully implemented.
In floor action, we were pleased to concur with the House on Senate Bill 2564 that would name a Department of Environmental Quality building for the late state Senator and U.S. Representative Patrick Alan Nunnelee, who served in the Senate from 1995 until 2011 and then in Washington from 2011 until his death in February 2015. It is an appropriate memorial to a man who worked so hard for the people of Mississippi.
On Thursday, hundreds of students, educators, family members and advocates came to the Capitol to demand a “Seat at the Table” when matters of education funding are being discussed. Although the Senate had adjourned early that day, our Caucus members stayed behind to show our support for this cause. Although rumors and speculation concerning a funding formula re-write, there has been no official movement. I oppose any changes to or from the MAEP until those changes have been thoroughly vetted not only by the Legislature but also other affected and interested parties including parents, educators, local government officials, taxpayers and the general public.
During the week, I had several visitors including a group from New Ford MB Church in Senatobia.
All Senate Floor sessions are streamed live online on the legislative website: www.legislature.ms.gov. Simply click on “Live Webcast” to watch us in action during floor debate.
I can be reached at the Capitol while in session at (601) 359-3221, by cell phone at (662) 224-4126, on Facebook or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.