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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: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19601229
Hinds18712386
Harrison16569277
Rankin12637263
Jackson12483219
Lee9671160
Madison9420196
Jones7914146
Forrest7159136
Lauderdale6798226
Lowndes6014137
Lamar585880
Lafayette5716113
Washington5182129
Bolivar4599121
Oktibbeha440391
Panola428392
Pearl River4138128
Warren4122113
Pontotoc408068
Marshall400392
Monroe3981126
Union393673
Neshoba3777167
Lincoln3491100
Hancock341674
Leflore3363118
Sunflower317385
Tate301574
Pike299193
Scott292868
Alcorn290760
Itawamba289072
Yazoo284962
Coahoma276367
Tippah276165
Copiah276057
Simpson272778
Prentiss268858
Leake252171
Marion251578
Wayne251541
Covington248278
Grenada246277
Adams233377
George231145
Newton226352
Winston221375
Jasper212744
Tishomingo211965
Attala206369
Chickasaw200851
Holmes181770
Clay178250
Stone171829
Tallahatchie170039
Clarke168971
Calhoun157128
Smith152431
Yalobusha143536
Greene127233
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Perry121434
Montgomery121338
Lawrence119521
Carroll117923
Amite110932
Webster110030
Jefferson Davis101231
Tunica98823
Claiborne97929
Benton93324
Humphreys92427
Kemper89623
Quitman77114
Franklin75619
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61927
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491849

Reported Deaths: 9869
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson707641366
Mobile35937724
Madison32307450
Tuscaloosa24024410
Montgomery22502499
Shelby21848214
Baldwin19698277
Lee14926151
Morgan13624251
Calhoun13202285
Etowah13154319
Marshall11243208
Houston10058259
Limestone9348134
Elmore9345182
Cullman8879179
St. Clair8799221
Lauderdale8588210
DeKalb8436174
Talladega7500163
Walker6509251
Jackson6483102
Autauga622890
Blount6084125
Colbert6004118
Coffee5235102
Dale4627106
Russell402930
Franklin398876
Covington3949106
Chilton386298
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke343149
Chambers3399108
Dallas3397141
Pike292972
Lawrence282284
Marion281295
Winston246266
Bibb244560
Geneva238870
Marengo233755
Pickens223954
Barbour210651
Hale209068
Fayette199956
Butler195265
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe166038
Randolph163140
Washington156334
Crenshaw144054
Clay143454
Macon141643
Cleburne137139
Lamar132432
Lowndes130749
Wilcox121425
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105427
Sumter98331
Coosa88623
Greene87132
Choctaw54923
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