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Out with the old, in with the … old?

The Mississippi Legislature starts the 2010 session Monday. When last we saw them, lawmakers were trying to reach a budget agreement before the new fiscal year started.

The tax on hospitals to help pay for the state’s Medicaid program was the major hold-up to a deal being reached late last June. When lawmakers start serious negotiations for the budget  year that begins next July, they’ll probably wish a hospital tax was the only thing they  had to grapple with.

Like last session, this one will be dominated by how to spend the state’s ever-dwindling revenue. Tax increases and the two proposed university mergers seem to have no shot at getting anywhere. With massive deficits expected the next two budget years, there will have to be some politically excruciating decisions made on how — or if — to fund some of the state’s functions.

The 2011 elections looming only adds to the drama. It all starts Monday.

Until then, enjoy your New Year’s Eve parties.

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