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House restores $100M to state budget

JACKSON — The Mississippi House, on a 73-47 vote, approved a bill yesterday that would restore $100 million of the $437 million in budget cuts made by Gov. Haley Barbour.

A yes vote was a vote for the proposal, while a no vote was a vote against it. Voting yes were 71 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting no were 45 Republicans and 2 Democrats.

This was a defeat for House Republicans, who proposed their own plan. Barbour called it an “acceptable compromise.”

Republican representatives proposed moving $50 million from the state’s tobacco trust fund to reduce cuts to the Departments of Corrections, Military, Human Services, Rehabilitation Services, Health, Mental Health, Bureau of Narcotics, Highway Safety Patrol, Crime Lab, Judges and Tax Commission. The funds also would restore, in full, cuts made to District Attorneys, and education funding for Ayers settlement, Chickasaw Interest, National Board Certification for teachers and student financial aid.

Barbour wants to utilize the balance in the state’s rainy day fund over several years, which economic experts predict will be dire for state budgets. Rainy day funds in the amount of $115 million have already been spent to balance budgets in this fiscal year. The proposal of the House leadership would leave only $91 million remaining to help plug budget deficits in fiscal year 2012 when the state faces a $1.2-billion shortfall, Barbour said.

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