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.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
Sunflower105425
Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
Tallahatchie53011
Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
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