DeSoto lawmaker says Mississippi budget "frustrating" - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DeSoto lawmaker says Mississippi budget "frustrating"

By Chip Washington - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - The state of Mississippi is $400 million in the hole, and lawmakers cannot agree on a budget.

The state's legislative session is officially over, but lawmakers left without finalizing a state budget, which means there is more work still left to do and not much time left in which to do it.

Mississippi State Representative Wanda Jennings has served the people of DeSoto County for 12 years. Friday, Jennings said this year's legislative session has been difficult, because in her opinion, the state budget should have been settled long before now.

"This has been very frustrating for me because I have been there. I have been ready to vote," she said.

At issue, how to make up a $400 million dollar deficit.

"Our six designated conferees from each chamber have not reached a compromise, therefore it now goes into the hands of the Governor," Jennings said.

There are two sticking points that have to be addressed. One is the Medicaid issue, which affects thousands of Mississippians in terms of funding health care.  The second is educational add-on's, which could be cut up to 10 percent and affect mandated school programs like special education and transportation.

Taxpayers could have to make up the difference.

"Then DeSoto County Schools have to go before the Board of Supervisors, and the only place that money can be made up is on property taxes," Jennings said.

Time is running out. Lawmakers only have a couple of weeks before the new fiscal year begins on July first.

In the end, Jennings says she enjoys the job and does not get upset when the wheels slow down - the work is too important.

"It matters," she said. "I enjoy it. I love it and I don't get upset.  If you get upset, you need to go home and forget it."

Jennings said some funds  could be borrowed from the state's $300+ million rainy day fund, but legislators are looking to hold on to that because things could be even worse next year.

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