Budget deal reached; special session to be called - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Budget deal reached; special session to be called

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Lawmakers are breathing a sigh of relief. In a Wednesday night deal, a roughly $5.5 billion state budget set to kick in July 1 was agreed on by house and Senate conferees.

"I'm just proud that we got a budget done," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Doug Davis. "We funded our priorities to the best of our ability, things like education, healthcare, law enforcement and economic development."

One of the major sticking points, education, will be about $15 million less in funding compared to this year. The road getting here wasn't an easy one.

"We had to work through a lot of opinions. I mean, when you've got 174 legislators up here, you've got 174 different opinions on what ought to be done and you've got to get the governor involved," said House Education Chairman Cecil Brown.

Governor Haley Barbour says even though spending is higher than he'd like, mainly do to positions from the house, it's a budget he can work with.

"The senate felt like it was the best deal we were going to get and so I agreed to it," said Barbour.

Thursday lawmakers recessed the last couple of days of the session in order to come back next week for an extended session at no cost to taxpayers. The budget itself will be several thousand pages, all of which have to be translated into legislation. Staff will be working through the weekend to try and have it ready for passage, hopefully by Monday.

When lawmakers do return they'll be met with a special session, within the session from Barbour who wants to bring up funding for two Mississippi museums. Barbour wants to use state funds in constructing the Civil Rights and State History Museums.

"I believe these two project co-located here in Jackson are very important to education and to tourism," said Barbour.

The urgency in bringing it up now, Barbour says is because he wants them completed in time for the bicentennial celebration set for 2017. That's a push Senator John Horhn agrees with.

"The importance of it is such that it warrants a special session," said Horhn.

In addition to hopefully passing a budget on Monday as well as a special session, lawmakers will also be met with about 80 conference reports on appropriations.

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