Impact of budget cuts easy to see

Published 9:30 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

State budget cuts are having visible impacts on programs and agencies in Lincoln County. After the Legislature cut the state’s appropriation to the community college system, Copiah-Lincoln Community College in turn increased student tuition and fees.

Who can blame them? Co-Lin must have revenue to operate its campuses. If the state reduces the amount it gives to community colleges, they have no choice but to generate more revenue from students.

We suspect most, if not all, of the state’s community colleges will offset the state’s cuts by increasing tuition and fees or reducing expenses — or both.

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Co-Lin will also reduce spending and leave vacant positions in addition to the tuition increase.

Beginning in the fall 2017 semester, tuition for full-time students will be $1,400 per semester, an increase of $205. Part-time tuition will be $140 per semester hour, an increase of approximately $20 per semester credit hour.

Community college remains a wise investment for many students, but the state must do its part to keep it that way.

While state revenues have ticked up the past couple months, a credit rating agency warned that it was concerned about the state’s finances.

Standard & Poor’s Financial Services didn’t downgrade the state’s credit rating, but changed its outlook to negative.

A lower credit rating affects the state’s ability to borrow money.

“S&P … worried about slow economic growth and the expectation that state revenues will continue to decline as more tax cuts kick in,” The Associated Press reported. “The rating agency said its analysis found more budget cuts would probably lead to fewer jobs in the state.”

Mississippi lawmakers are gambling on the idea that continued tax cuts will lead to economic growth, which in turn will benefit the state and its residents. But it seems counterintuitive to reduce revenues by cutting taxes at the same time the state is having revenue problems.

If the Legislature’s gamble doesn’t pay off soon, more programs and agencies will see further budget cuts.