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Budget: Cutting taxes and programs

It looks like another tight budget year for Mississippi.

Top lawmakers have proposed a budget that would be 3 percent smaller for the coming year.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee met Thursday, and members adopted a recommendation for the state to spend almost $6.2 billion during fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. That is a reduction of $195.3 million from the current year, The Associated Press reported.

“I would advise agencies to pay strong attention to this budget recommendation and to begin working with the Legislature to find ways to continue offering essential services while operating at the leanest levels possible,” said House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton.

The committee recommends spending roughly the same on K-12 education in the coming year. Among the programs that could see spending cuts under the committee’s proposal are Medicaid, universities, community colleges, mental health and prisons.

In addition to those cuts, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the legislative recommendation includes tax reductions that were signed into law earlier this year and are being phased in over several years, according to AP.

Cutting taxes while also cutting agencies seems like an odd approach. If the state was in dire need of revenue, maybe cutting taxes wasn’t the best idea.

And yes, there is likely waste at every state agency that could be trimmed, but that’s not what’s happening here. Cuts to community colleges, universities and mental health services will negatively impact the state for years to come.

We suggest lawmakers head back to the drawing board and try again.