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Arts school, crisis center should be OK

Area lawmakers are pleased with the $4.5 billion state budgetreached by negotiators late Sunday night.

“I’m very pleased. We were able to balance it,” said District 92Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett, R-Brookhaven. “Everything in Lincoln Countyhas been funded.”

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, D-Brookhaven, agreed.

“I’m happy,” she said.

The full House and Senate still have to vote on the budgetplan.

The proposed legislation includes substantial increases ineducation at all levels.

However, the Mississippi School of the Arts will receive thesame funding as the current fiscal year, Barnett said. Lawmakersanticipated no funding-related problems for the school.

“We should be OK,” Hyde-Smith said.

The proposed budget also increases funding for the Department ofMental Health by $8.5 million, but that still leaves it $6 millionto $8 million short overall. The shortfall will not affectconstruction plans for a new Brookhaven Mental Health CrisisCenter, lawmakers said.

“The crisis center should be fine. (The Department of MentalHealth) did quite well,” Hyde-Smith said.

Barnett said the funding for that project was allocated yearsago. With the governor’s signing of a bill earlier this session tofund the operational costs of that facility and six other similarcenters, the shortfall would not affect those plans.

“The money’s in the bank,” he said.

District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, declined commentearly today. Moak, who is not a member of the House AppropriationsCommittee, said he had not had the opportunity to review the finalbudget proposal approved last night.