State ends fiscal year with money in the bank
by Associated Press
Published: July 1,2011
JACKSON — State government ended the fiscal year June 30 with about $62 million in the bank.
According to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, whose office announced the surplus for the month of June, the state collected $581 million in revenue, or 4.2 percent, above the projection. For the entire fiscal year, the state collected 2.2 percent more revenue than it did the previous year — or $4.6 billion.
The bulk of the state’s revenue comes from taxes on retail items and income. It also collects casino taxes, taxes on insurance premiums and various other sources of money.
Gov. Haley Barbour withheld comment on the projected surplus, saying he would wait until the final numbers are calculated in the coming days.
The Legislature crafted a $5.5-billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The fiscal 2012 plan spends about $17 million more than the budget that ended June 30.
Marianne Hill, a senior economist with the state College Board, said the state should see continued growth as it recovers from the recession.
“The economy is expected to grow more rapidly next year,” she said.
But as lawmakers prepare to build a budget that will go into effect a year from now, Hill said the big concern would be the loss of more than $383 million in federal stimulus dollars.
“Revenues will be low compared to the stimulus money lost,” she said.
During fiscal 2010, Barbour had to make more than $500 million in cuts to state agencies’ budgets as Mississippi failed to meet revenue projections. The state went for 18 months straight during the height of a budget crisis without meeting estimates.
Bryant said he would call budget leaders to Jackson earlier than usual this fall to start work on fiscal 2013.
“State agencies must still be prudent in their spending as we recover from these tough economic times,” he said.
But it is clear the state will end the year with a surplus. Whatever the size of the surplus, it can be used next session, but both Bryant, a Republican, and House Education Chair Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, a key budget leader, agreed economist that the upcoming session will be difficult because of the loss of federal stimulus funds.
“Obviously, I am pleased,” Brown said. “But we are not out of the woods yet. The economy is still slow, but it is growing. But we still have big issues we will have to deal with next year.”
Bryant, who is in a midst of a campaign for governor, said: “State agencies must still be prudent in their spending as we recover from these tough economic times.”
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