Lawmakers return to Jackson for special session about budget mat - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers return to Jackson for special session about budget matters

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Lawmakers had a lot of work to complete at the State Capitol Monday for the special session. Because of the procedure, a lot of the day was spent with lawmakers playing a game of hurry up and wait. 

Three budgets were waiting for the final green light; Mississippi Department of Transportation, State Aid Roads and the Attorney General's Office. The House took up MDOT and AG's office first.

"The Attorney General’s bill really didn’t change," explained House Appropriations Chairman Bill Stone. "I don’t know if you remember there was some language added at the last minute that procedurally killed the bill. Transportation, there was some special projects that the House objected to. And those projects are out and they’ve gone a clean bill over to the Senate.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate passed the State Aid Roads Budget without objections.

The legislature made a big budgeting change in 2016. Some agencies relied on special funds to run certain programs. But the 2016 bill swept those special funds into the general fund.

"Some of these special funds were trapped," noted Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke. "It was at the time about $8 million. But now it’s now $9.7 million in bank accounts that got trapped."

The Senate debated the issue for a while before eventually passing it. The example brought up multiple times was the Attorney General's office.

"The Attorney General’s going to have an obligation to run all these programs but we’re taking away the money he was supposed to run the programs with," said Senator Hob Bryan-D during the floor debate.

Special funds came back up as an issue when the Governor added two items to the call. Both involve money within the Secretary of State's office and money tied up because of that special funds "sweep" in 2016.

Another item on the agenda is the Fortify Act. It makes long-term budgeting changes that the Governor hopes will put the state in better standing with credit rating bureaus.

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