Lawmakers continue sorting out 2011 budget - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers continue sorting out 2011 budget

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - State lawmakers returned to the state capitol Tuesday after a three and a half week recess to sort out the 2011 budget.

Lawmakers were hoping to see $187 million of federal stimulus funds that would go back to Medicaid.

Those funds still haven't been approved, but in the meantime, Senate Appropriations Chairman Alan Nunnelee said he was glad they have a budget to work with.

"I am not proud of the budget we put together.  I am very proud we have a budget," said Nunnelee.

That budget is $5.5 billion for fiscal year 2011 starting July 1st.  That number is $500 million less than the 2010 budget.

"We've known all along that we're going to have to adopt a budget that is lower than last year's budget.  We've been telling agencies since January that's going to happen," Senator Nunnelee explained.

House Education Chairman Cecil Brown said about a third of this budget needs to go to education.

"That money goes to every county in the state.  It supports 30,000 teachers, and 30,000 other people that work in the school system," said Brown.

State legislators are not costing tax payers additional dollars coming back into session when they did.

Rep. Brown anticipated once they resolve the 2011 budget, the issue won't have to be revisited in a special session at a later date unless something unusual happens.

"Some kind of emergency, something really extraordinary and unusual you might see the governor call us back.  But once we're done with the budget, I think we're done with the budget," said Brown.

Lawmakers have until Wednesday April 28th to finalize the details of the budget, but the house and senate hope to have it resolved by Friday.

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