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Jobless rate down, but cash is short

The state’s economy is in a troubling place despite recent unemployment numbers. Mississippi recently posted its lowest unemployment rate since 2001. Payrolls also increased slightly.

The state’s jobless rate was at 5.2 percent in February.

That’s good news, but there’s plenty of bad when it comes to the state’s economy.

Mississippi has one of the highest jobless rates in the country, which means the state isn’t rebounding as quickly as the rest of the country. The state also has struggled in the revenue department.

Lawmakers on Friday lowered the revenue estimate for the upcoming budget year by $175 million, according to The Associated Press. That means lawmakers may have to further cut spending.

House and Senate leaders were supposed to agree on spending bills for a budget for the next year Saturday night.

The state’s current-year budget has already been slashed by more than $170 million. Gov. Phil Bryant has already pulled $50 million from the rainy day fund to pay the bills.

State agencies have cut personnel, left open positions unfilled and reduced services. But with declining revenues, there will be more belt-tightening.

The news that the state is expected to receive less revenue in the new budget year means lawmakers might have to reduce funding for education.

Tax cuts and tax incentives for corporations will further reduce revenue. Republican lawmakers have insisted that they are beneficial but it’s hard to see how. At at time when the state is short on cash, reducing taxes is a gamble that might not pay off.