State budget picture not pretty

Published 10:03 am Thursday, June 2, 2016

Maybe lawmakers know something the rest of us don’t.

Most of us would agree that passing tax cuts and a $250 million bond bill for pet projects while the state’s revenues lag isn’t smart. But that’s exactly what happened this past legislative session.

And the budget picture isn’t getting any prettier.

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Mississippi tax collections picked up in May but are still lagging as the state enters the final month of its budget year, The Associated Press reported.

Tax collections were about $103 million short of expectations the first 11 months of the year, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said he doesn’t know whether another round of budget cuts will be needed before the year ends June 30. He said cuts could be avoided if the economy improves, AP reported.

“We are meeting on this almost daily and talking about it,” Bryant said. “We’re looking at it just now what the ending revenues would be.”

Bryant has already cut $65 million from the current year’s budget.  He headed off deeper cuts by pulling more than $45 million from the rainy day fund and giving that to agencies, AP reported.

It’s not as if the budget was exactly rosy when lawmakers passed the tax cuts or the bond bill, so there are only a couple explanations. Either lawmakers know something we don’t  — is the state about to win the lottery? Or we all know something they don’t — you don’t cut taxes and take out a loan while revenues are sinking and agencies are trimming budgets.