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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: 516486

Reported Deaths: 10299
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35042558
DeSoto33463432
Hinds32797643
Jackson24926392
Rankin22593405
Lee16523245
Madison14978283
Jones14191248
Forrest13852260
Lauderdale12326323
Lowndes11387193
Lamar10713140
Pearl River9759244
Lafayette8881143
Hancock7848132
Washington7561169
Oktibbeha7234138
Monroe7091179
Pontotoc7060110
Warren6892178
Panola6807135
Neshoba6753210
Marshall6735142
Bolivar6472151
Union645699
Alcorn5950108
Pike5947157
Lincoln5544136
George511080
Prentiss510185
Tippah497983
Itawamba4903107
Scott479499
Tate4786118
Adams4784125
Leflore4756144
Yazoo458492
Copiah458395
Simpson4577117
Wayne443772
Covington435395
Sunflower4331106
Marion4311112
Coahoma4259110
Leake414491
Newton396182
Tishomingo388894
Grenada3796109
Stone366466
Attala341690
Jasper341566
Chickasaw319167
Winston318892
Clay313978
Clarke301995
Calhoun288950
Holmes273389
Smith270852
Yalobusha245847
Tallahatchie232653
Greene225449
Walthall222166
Lawrence220842
Perry214656
Amite210357
Webster206748
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182757
Carroll175841
Jefferson Davis174643
Tunica163939
Benton153439
Kemper145541
Choctaw137827
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132339
Franklin126630
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848779

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164582005
Mobile744601384
Madison53563738
Shelby38454371
Baldwin38215589
Tuscaloosa36172644
Montgomery34573782
Lee25690264
Calhoun22636520
Morgan22548411
Etowah20075520
Marshall18865318
Houston17795426
St. Clair16968359
Limestone16206220
Cullman16170306
Elmore15952295
Lauderdale15093307
Talladega14267302
DeKalb13095271
Walker12180380
Blount10791193
Autauga10562157
Jackson10221196
Coffee9440192
Colbert9376210
Dale9049192
Tallapoosa7287202
Russell711465
Chilton7098170
Covington6973197
Escambia6969144
Franklin6369108
Chambers5810142
Marion5446132
Dallas5306210
Pike5135109
Clarke486086
Lawrence4852130
Winston4804110
Geneva4656136
Bibb436495
Barbour370880
Butler3445101
Marengo342993
Monroe338566
Randolph338067
Pickens335090
Fayette332285
Henry321266
Cherokee320564
Hale319589
Crenshaw261878
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay253169
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130745
Choctaw94628
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