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No surprise: State’s budget under the axe

In what Magnolia Marketplace all but predicted yesterday, Gov. Haley Barbour has announced he is cutting $171.9 million from the budget for fiscal year 2010. The cuts will affect almost every agency, including education. Spared were Medicaid, the Mississippi Department of Corrections and court-ordered expenditures and debt service.

Not every facet of the education budget came under the gun. The National Board Certification program and student financial aid line items remain whole — “for now,” Barbour said.

The National Board Certification program is significant. It pays teachers who meet the standards a $6,000 annual salary supplement. The program was up for debate during budget negotiations in May and June. Dozens of teachers showed up at the Capitol and, as you might expect, let lawmakers know they wanted to keep their money.

The fiscal year is barely two months old, and the budget is already smaller than it was when it started. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets later this month to begin drafting rough outlines for next fiscal year’s budget. Care to guess what the overriding theme will be?

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