Lawmaker weighs in on how settlement money will be used - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lawmaker weighs in on how settlement money will be used

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The state's bank account just got a nearly $34 million deposit. State agencies are working with less money after cuts from the Governor, but a state settlement with a pharmaceutical company could help plug the budget holes.

State budget writers admit settlement money is always a nice surprise, but don't get too excited - the latest amount just gets the state out of the red.

"$34 million does bring our budget back into a positive, let's say a positive amount," noted Senate Appropriations chairman Buck Clarke.

In Attorney General Jim Hood's statement, he said he's hopeful the settlement money could undo damage to the state budget.

He cited an impact to services you might need like the state hospital, layoffs at the Department of Revenue and Forestry commission and closure of national Guard armories.

"He usually makes suggestions of where the money should be put in," added Clarke. "But as he knows also, the money is always put into the general fund. And especially here in the middle of the year, we're not even in the session. We don't assign money. That just goes into the general fund it helps pay all the bills for all the agencies."

The ways the state got itself into a budget hole have been piling up for months. They discovered an accounting error after the legislative session, then, we weren't spending as much as they thought we would, so there are millions less in the state account than what they planned for.

"I'm optimistic that our revenues are going to creep back up," said Clarke.

Governor Bryant is hoping any more budget adjustments can wait till the legislative session.

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