Trickle down effect after latest budget cuts - - Jackson, MS

Trickle down effect after latest budget cuts

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - After Governor Haley Barbour announced the latest round of budget cuts on Wednesday, several state agencies prepped for furloughs.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services ordered a day of furloughs for Friday April 2nd.

Several other agencies met with the State Personnel Board to discuss furloughing options before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.

The Department of Public Safety was granted 1 to 6 days of furloughs if needed. The State Tax Commission and the Department of Agriculture asked from 4 to 12 days. DHS was also granted a total of 8 furlough days.

In a statement released on Thursday, DHS Executive Director Don Thompson said:

"Because of the volatile nature of the current economic crisis in the State of Mississippi, executing a furlough plan has become necessary to manage the remaining general funds in our budget."

These furlough options come at a time while Mississippi's unemployment rate has reached 12 percent, according the Labor Department.

Last week, the House Labor Committee missed a deadline to re-authorize the Department of Employment Security as a state agency.

Governor Barbour says as a result, the $70,000 unemployed Mississippians they currently serve could be in jeopardy.

"There is no mechanism under state law or federal law to give them the money, if the Department of Employment Security is not re-authorized."

Labor Committee Chair Rufus Straughter says he will not bring up this bill to his committee for re-authorization until the Governor accepts the $56 million in stimulus funds to go the department.

Straughter says these funds could help 10,000 Mississippians get unemployment benefits, which would lead to these people getting jobs.

"The information we get from the Department of Labor says that after four years, you find that this is a burden on your state you can go back to doing what you were doing before hand." Straughter continued, "However, if one is keeping up with what's happening in our economy today, we know that the economy is getting better. So after four years this be a mute argument anyway."

Because this re-authorization bill was not brought up in committee, this means the legislature could go into a special session.

The latest round of cuts the Governor ordered was $40.6 million dollars, which totals $499.1 million dollars for fiscal year 2010.

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