Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Bryant Releases Budget Proposal

JACKSON – Presenting his second Executive Budget Recommendation as governor, Phil Bryant provided a balanced budget plan for the state that also provides tax relief to more than 1,700 small businesses throughout Mississippi.

Bryant’s budget calls for changes to the way Mississippi collects taxes from some small businesses. Under a 2002 law, certain small businesses are required to pre-pay a portion of their tax liability at the close of the state fiscal year each June, allowing Mississippi to count tax revenues that actually belong to the new fiscal year that begins each July.

“Small businesses are our number-one job creators, and this tax practice hurts them by basically requiring them to pay extra taxes each June,” Gov. Bryant said. “In 2007, the Legislature realized this practice hampered business in the state, and a measure was passed—but repeatedly suspended—to exempt businesses with smaller tax liabilities from the pre-payment requirement. This year, we have identified a special fund surplus that will allow us to return to the 2007 exemption standards, providing tax relief to 67 percent of Mississippi businesses.”

Bryant’s budget maintains his commitment to spending only 98 percent of available revenues and builds the state’s reserves to protect against the potential effects of a struggling national economy.

“We are continuing to save and budget conservatively, finding more efficiencies and relying on less one-time money to fund recurring expenses,” Gov. Bryant said. “We are also funding Mississippi’s highest priorities– investing in our children by improving our education outcomes, protecting public safety, continuing our economic development efforts and ensuring the basic function of critical government systems.”

Bryant’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget utilizes a total of $5.8 billion in revenue and reserves nearly $100 million of Mississippi’s revenue as savings for fiscal year 2015.

“I thank the Legislature for heeding my call to return to saving two percent of our revenues, and my budget continues this commitment,” Gov. Bryant said. “As a result of our discipline, Mississippi had about $96 million to start the fiscal year we are currently in. In previous years when the savings law was not obeyed, we often started with nothing.”

Economic forecasts for Mississippi indicate slow growth, and Bryant’s budget reduces appropriations to most state agencies by 1.5 percent. The governor prioritized state spending, concentrating resources in public safety and economic development and directing new funds to education improvement.

Education:

· Level funding for MAEP using $2.03 billion in state funds.

· Full funding for National Board Certified Teacher program.

· Level funding for Teach for America and Mississippi Teachers Corps.

· More than $24 million in new education funding to address improvement priorities, including:

o $2 million to fund a pilot program to develop innovative performance-based compensation models for educators. Four districts in the state are participating.

o Improve Mississippi’s literacy outcomes through $15 million in funding for ongoing, research-based training for classroom teachers, as well as providing reading interventionists throughout the state.

o $1 million each for two new scholarship programs for high-achieving students who agree to teach five years in a Mississippi public school.

o $250,000 to help students enrolled in high school technical programs earn national certifications and accreditations that will help prove their qualifications in the job market.

o $1 million for dropout intervention efforts conducted by Jobs for Mississippi graduates.

o $3 million for Mississippi Building Blocks continuing pilot program.

o $1.8 million for the State Longitudinal Data System, also known as Lifetracks, to gather and analyze education metrics.

Community Colleges and IHL:

· Fully funds Student Financial Aid.

· My budget reflects a commitment to these valuable institutions and the services they provide by increasing funding to the IHL and Community and Junior College general support budgets by $9.1 million.

· Level funding for IHL agricultural units.

Public Safety:

· Exempts most public safety agencies from budget cuts.

· Provides $8.5 million increase to Mississippi Highway Patrol to fund a trooper school, compensate on-the-road troopers who have advanced their career ladders, and replace and equip aging vehicles.

· Provides funds to replace commodities used by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in response to Hurricane Isaac.

· Meets construction and maintenance needs of the Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network (MSWIN).

· Provides a fiscal year 2014 increase to the Department of Corrections, as well as funds to meet remaining needs in the current fiscal year.

Health Care:

· Provides appropriation to University of Mississippi Medical Center equal to its fiscal year 2013 appropriation, which includes $3.2 million for the Rural Physician Scholarship Program.

Division of Medicaid:

· Recommends Medicaid receive $878.4 million to fund needs in fiscal year 2014 as well as remaining needs in the current fiscal year.

· If the federal government continues to create uncertainty in the business climate or the global economy deteriorates, Medicaid’s actual needs may be $921 million or more.

Additional Priorities:

• Reserves half of the balance in the Capital Expense Fund so the Department of Finance and Administration can utilize this fund for its proper purpose of conducting maintenance and repairs on state buildings.

• Uses one-time dollars in an idle fund to meet one-time needs for upgrades to the state’s accounting system and to county-based tax collection and vehicle titling systems.

• Calls for the adoption of performance based budgeting and provides $250,000 to implement a performance audit pilot program.

• As chairman of state bond commission, Gov. Bryant will not approve issuance of more debt in any given year than is retired.

“Budgets, ultimately, reflect priorities, and this budget represents how I believe we can best use our resources to continue moving this state forward,” Gov. Bryant said. “By opening the doors to opportunity through an improved public education system, safeguarding our communities, and encouraging investment in sectors most likely to bring lasting economic growth, Mississippians will rise together, in the coming fiscal year and beyond.”

Bryant’s Executive Budget Recommendation is available for download at http://www.governorbryant.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Governor-Phil-Bryant-FY-14-Executive-Budget-Recommendation.pdf.