JACKSON, MS (AP) - Mississippi government will have slightly less money to spend during the current fiscal year because of slow economic growth, state budget writers said Monday.
They are also planning on only a modest increase in state tax collections for the coming year.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee met Monday to discuss revenue estimates - the best guess for how much money will be available for state government to spend each year, based on employment numbers and other economic indicators.
They reduced the revenue estimate for fiscal 2016, which ends June 30. And, they set an estimate for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1.
Bryant said he will wait until at least January to see if nearly $65 million in spending cuts will be needed in current state budget of roughly $6.3 billion. If tax collections increase unexpectedly, cuts might be avoided.
"The economy is slowly but steadily improving, and that's a good thing," Bryant said. "I'm comfortable where we're at, and hopefully we'll outpace our projections."
During public hearings in September, agency directors requested millions more for education, Medicaid, mental health and other services next year.
"There's not going to be significant additional revenue for all the different asks that the various state agencies made," said Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, current chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
The general fund makes up most, but not all, of state-generated money for the budget. Lawsuit settlements also provide some money.
Under the new estimates, the general fund for the current year will be just under $5.6 billion, which is 1.1 percent larger than last year's general fund; and the general fund for the coming year is projected to be about $5.7 billion, which is a 1.9 percent increase over the new estimate for the current year.
State economist Darrin Webb told budget writers Monday that from January through June, income grew 2.5 percent in Mississippi and 4.1 percent in the nation.
"Mississippi's economy, while gradually improving, is not performing as well as other states," Webb said.
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