Home > News, Politics > More fake Viagra in the Delta than money in the state’s bank account

More fake Viagra in the Delta than money in the state’s bank account

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee this afternoon that there was a warehouse in the Delta full of counterfeit Viagra, but his consumer protection division was having a hard time working up a case.

“We can’t get any witnesses,” Hood said. “Everybody wants to remain anonymous.” The story drew laughter from committee members and the audience gathered to watch the budget hearings that are the first steps in preparing the fiscal year 2011 budget.

The forecast for the revenue that will fund the budget, which takes effect next July 1, is a little less entertaining.

Four agencies had their turns to make their budget requests today, and all of them were told variations of the same thing: There is very little — if any — chance that anybody will receive even a tiny increase in the funding they got this  year.

Hood’s office requested what amounted to level funding, or no increase to the $9.5 million it got in FY10.

“We hope we can stay where we are,” Hood said.

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller presented what on paper looked like a 9 percent increase from FY10 to FY11, but Waller said the state’s courts were merely trying to return to the funding level they received in FY09, when they got about $6.5 million. The FY10 allocation was 9 percent less.

“We’ve got to keep the courthouses open,” Waller said, in response to a question Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, asked about the justification for an increase when state revenue if down 14 percent in the first two months of the current fiscal  year. “We’ve got to have enough money to operate. It’s simple.”

Waller said the court system has already implemented a hiring freeze and has canceled pay raises for court administrators who have reached service and education milestones. The decrease from FY09 to FY10 will essentially “turn the lights out” on the court system two months before the fiscal year ends, Waller said, leading to layoffs.

Department of Finance and Administration deputy executive director Freddie “Flip” Phillips was conciliatory during his presentation to the JLBC. He admitted that he didn’t expect to receive a 9 percent increase in general fund money in FY11 the agency is requesting.

Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, chair of the Appropriations Committee, told Phillips and his staff that adjustments to the state employee health insurance system would be one of his priorities when the Legislature convenes in January. Premiums, which the state pays in full for state employees, are set to rise 11 percent in FY2011 and another 17 percent in FY12. The two years combined would lead to an $83 million deficit in the fund the state uses to pay the premiums.

“I don’t think we can afford that,” Nunnelee said.

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