Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, was today’s keynote at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Stennis Capitol Press Corps.
His opening remark? “I disagree with Gov. Barbour’s approach to the budget.”
While that isn’t a surprise — Democrats in the Legislature have rarely agreed with the Republican governor about anything — what he said in the ensuing half hour does offer a preview of what the talking points will be once lawmakers reconvene April 20 to craft a budget for fiscal year 2011.
As they have the past few budget-crafting sessions, education and Medicaid will dominate the proceedings.
Bryan rattled off a list of cash reserves — the Rainy Day Fund, Health Care Trust Fund and some discretionary stimulus money at Barbour’s disposal — and said all those reserves totaled up to $750 million.
“With all of that available, we do not need to have the devastating budget cuts,” Bryan said, referring to Barbour’s cutting roughly $500 million out of the FY2010 budget due to plunging revenue collections.
Education, Bryan said, should receive every penny possible.
“All of us understand that public education is going to be underfunded even in the best of times. (But) there has never been a year that will be as desperate as next year will be for public schools.”
Bryan said the last round of cuts Barbour made, which resulted in Medicaid reimbursements to providers being reduced, was a “completely unnecessary disruption of the system.”
So there’s the preview. The full-length feature film starts in two weeks.