Mississippi lawmakers starting to examine budget requests

MGN Online

Mississippi legislative leaders are holding a single day of hearings to start considering state agencies' spending requests for the 2021 budget year, which begins July 1.

Posted: Sep 11, 2019 5:17 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislative leaders are holding a single day of hearings to start considering state agencies' spending requests for the 2021 budget year, which begins July 1.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets Friday at the Woolfolk state office building, near the Capitol. The 14 members are scheduled to hear from education officials and leaders of the Division of Medicaid, the state Supreme Court and the departments of public safety and wildlife, fisheries and parks.

Committee members are not scheduled to hear from the Department of Corrections, where leaders have said for years that they need more money to increase the pay for prison guards.

They also are not hearing from the Department of Mental Health. A federal judge said Sept. 3 that he would appoint an expert to oversee Mississippi's mental health system because the state is doing too little to serve people outside the confinement of mental hospitals.

The Legislative Budget Office posts spending requests online. Agencies are required to file multiple documents, and sorting through them to get a comprehensive picture is time-consuming.

The Budget Committee usually makes a first set of spending recommendations, and members typically oppose many requests from agencies. That information is sent to the full Legislature, and all 52 senators and 122 House members will get to vote on final budget proposals during the spring.

All of the legislative seats are up for election in November, though, and it's unclear how much deference the incoming lawmakers will give the first set of budget recommendations from a committee that includes people leaving office.

The Department of Corrections is again asking lawmakers to fund pay raises for prison guards. In response to questions from The Associated Press, department spokeswoman Grace Fisher said the average starting salary for those jobs is $25,650. Corrections Commissioner Pelicia M. Hall wants to increase that to $30,370, the average starting salary for correctional officers in the four states surrounding Mississippi.

Hall is also asking lawmakers to authorize and pay for 800 additional employees at the three largest state prisons — the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and South Mississippi Correctional Institution.

"These additional positions will better allow the MDOC to have the correctional staff necessary for adequate security coverage for the inmate population in Institutions," Fisher said.

The three prisons, collectively, are authorized to have 1,874 employees, although Fisher said 581 of those jobs are vacant.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
Leflore207791
Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
Itawamba156135
Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
Winston124526
Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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