Today, the Mississippi Legislature will convene for a special session to deal with budget deficits. The sole purpose for calling lawmakers back to the capitol is to attempt to pull money from the “rainy day” fund in order to cover a projected shortfall of up to $75 million. This is after the “rainy day” fund has already been dipped into earlier this year.
I could be wrong, but one would think that if you have to take from a fund called “rainy day” multiple times, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. All this in the same year as controversial corporate tax breaks and the passing of HB1, the massive bond bill that added to our debt. I wrote an article on that topic earlier in the year and my plea now is the still the same call for true conservatives to take a stand against what seems to be an unstoppable spiral towards debt and fiscal mismanagement.
Just last month, it was announced that there was an error in the 2017 budget in the amount of $56 million. The solution proposed to that error was that we do nothing. That’s right, nothing. At least not right now. They are unrealistically hoping that the projected revenues are higher than expected. When the money doesn’t just show up, they will deal with it later in session or you guessed it, dip into the “rainy day” fund. At this point, should we rename this fund? It is not a “rainy day” fund when it, apparently, rains all the time in Mississippi.
This is all contradictory considering that the Center on Budget and Policy Procedures rated Mississippi high concerning their use of best practices when forecasting revenue. Perhaps the methods are irrelevant if we still over spend and fail to provide all the information needed to obtain accurate forecast. Ignoring a $56 million error cannot possibly help, either.
Maybe I am overly optimistic, but I must believe that there are a few of our elected officials that can make rational decisions and get our state budget balanced and keep it that way. By balanced, I am not talking about balancing it on paper while knowing that you are going to overspend and ask for more later. The ability of our legislators to bail themselves out of mismanagement by borrowing more money or taking it from the “rainy day” fund has to stop. If they can’t control the temptation to give their corporate buddies tax breaks and cash incentives with taxpayer dollars, we need to replace them with ones that can.
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