As of right now, the Legislature’s official revenue estimate is that the state will have slightly less revenue – $1.5 million or .03 percent – than it did during the 2017 session when multiple agencies absorbed significant budget cuts.
But in recent months, revenue collections have exceeded projections. Based on those collections, there is a possibility that legislative leaders will meet this week to raise the estimate for the coming budget year.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who rotates with House Speaker Philip Gunn as the chairman of the Legislative Budget Committee, will have the final say this year on whether to meet in order to adjust the estimate.
Laura Hipp, a spokeswoman for Reeves, said discussions are ongoing on whether to meet on the revenue estimate.
If that occurs, there is a possibility legislators could have additional funds to appropriate.
Saturday night is the deadline for legislative leaders to reach a deal on the budget. They face a Monday night deadline to pass those budget agreements.
To further complicate matters, proposals are alive to transfer funds that normally would be appropriated for general fund agencies – such as education, health care and law enforcement – to transportation to deal with bridge and road woes – on both the state and federal level.
If that occurs, it could necessitate additional budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year.
Negotiations on whether to transfer general fund money to transportation will be ongoing this week simultaneous to the budget negotiations, resulting in multiple related issues as the session winds down.
House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he is hopeful an agreement can be reached to provide additional funds to transportation.
In addition to possibly transferring general fund money to transportation, there also are proposals to incur debt through the issuing of bonds to provide additional funds for transportation.
“(House and Senate leaders) are talking” about a potential transportation compromise, Smith said.
— Bobby Harrison / Daily Journal
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