By JACK WEATHERLY
The budget for the Mississippi Development Authority could be cut by 11.4 percent for fiscal 2018 compared with the previous year.
That’s the recommendation from the Legislative Joint Budget Committee for the state’s leading economic development agency.
The committee, composed of members of both houses of the Legislature, recommends a 2.3 percent reduction in the fiscal 2017 budget of $5.66 billion for state government as a whole.
Revenue estimates are $5.78 billion, or 1.8 percent above the revised fiscal 2017 estimates.
However, the 2 percent “rainy day” fund more than accounts for that.
The Legislature commences its 2017 session on Jan. 3.
Gov. Phil Bryant’s general budget recommendation for the MDA in fiscal 2018 is $19.4 million, a reduction of $362,198, or 1.8 percent.
Mississippi’s economy continues its slow growth, and proposed tax cut for individuals and corporations could mean less in the state’s coffers.
However, the Republican-dominated Legislature, and Bryant, a Republican, are of the school of thought that more money could be available to promote growth.
MDA declined to discuss the recommended budget and how the agency would handle the decrease.
The MDA said in an email that it “will work with the budget authorized by the Mississippi Legislature. MDA values its strong relationship with the Legislature and we will continue to work with them moving forward.”
The agency operates under the authority of Bryant, for whom jobs creation is a top priority. Glenn McCullough Jr. is the executive director.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in an interview with the Clarion-Ledger Tuesday that the budget aims to reduce out-of-state travel by 20 percent, back to fiscal 2012 levels.
MDA conducts eight to 10 out-of-country trips annually. Agency spokesman Jeff Rent said in an email on Friday that the state receives from the federal Small Business Administration up to 50 percent in reimbursements for expenses incurred on those trips.
MDA is planning a Feb. 20-24 trip to Cuba.
MDA requested $20.1 million for fiscal 2018, which was the committee’s estimated amount for fiscal 2017, which will end June 30, though the actual amount appropriated was $19.8 million.
The agency asked for $20.1 million for fiscal 2018 but the committee recommends $17.5 million, which is 11.4 percent less than the fiscal 2017 appropriation.
State support special funds, which totaled $8.25 million for fiscal 2017, pushed total funding to $28.1 million but are exhausted.
Roughly half of the special money was from the state’s settlement with BP for the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
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