Lawmakers discuss what they expect in the 2017 legislative sessi - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers discuss what they expect in the 2017 legislative session

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The countdown to the 2017 legislative session is on. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol next Tuesday. No matter the bills that get filed, money matters will likely weigh heavy on lawmaker's decisions this year.

"We were conservative last year but we just had a downturn that we weren't anticipating," said Representative John Moore. "And at this point, it doesn't take much of a downturn to make us have to make adjustments very quickly."

Two-thousand-16 left state agencies with multiple rounds of budget cuts after revenue growth was slower than expected.

"The biggest challenge this legislative session that we'll have will be on funding basic services that we have now," explained Representative Earle Banks-D.

There are some specific issues that are already drumming up debate. One is education funding. Non-profit EdBuild was hired this year to evaluate the state's funding formula. If the recommendation comes in soon, legislation will likely follow.

"It will be very critical that we see something and have it formulated very quickly," noted Moore. "Time eats us alive at this point in the year; 90 days with the short period of time and the deadlines start coming very quickly this year."

Another topic that gets a lot of attention is the chance of a statewide lottery.

"It's income that we could take in and use for specific purposes and we just have to see how it goes," said Banks.

The governor has indicated he may be more favorable to those discussions this year.

“Blue Lives Matter” legislation is expected to be filed. That would make targeting a law enforcement officer a hate crime. Similar bills have been filed in other states, including Louisiana.

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