Gov. Bryant Releases Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2020

11/15/2018 in Media, News

Mississippi’s revenue continues to grow as a result of conservative policy-making. This year, revenue is projected to increase by 2.6 percent, and we have record amounts in the state’s cash reserves. Because of this growth, in Fiscal Year 2020, I recommend to the Legislature that it cut no agency’s budget and that we make investments in agencies and programs that will lead to long-term prosperity in Mississippi.​ 

The first and most important step to take in budgeting for the future is saving.  Setting aside 2 percent of the estimated revenue is not only smart financial practice, but it helps the state’s credit rating.  When I entered office in January 2012, the Working Cash Stabilization Reserve Fund, better known as the Rainy Day Fund, had a balance of only $148 million.  In this year of growth, my recommendation sets aside $116 million, of which nearly half would go to the Rainy Day Fund, bringing our savings accounts to over $400 million.  This fiscal responsibility should be maintained until we reach the statutory limit of the Rainy Day Fund, which is 10 percent of the state’s general fund revenue.

This savings would not have been possible without the Financial and Operational Responses That Invigorate Future Years (FORTIFY) Act passed during the 2017 special legislative session.  Without the FORTIFY Act, $55.4 million would have carried over into FY 2019, as beginning cash, and spent, instead of being deposited into Mississippi’s reserve accounts at the end of FY 2018.  It is remarkable the state finished FY 2018 with nearly $124 million surplus, and placed $118.3 million of that amount into reserve accounts.

This year we must spend $75 million of our additional revenue on the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Although the PERS board raised the rate despite some opposition, the state’s funding of that increase remains vital for the health of the pension system, the economic security of our state employees, and the credit rating of the State of Mississippi.  I also ask that $3.5 million be spent towards the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol’s separate retirement system.

Teachers are the men and women who are educating tomorrow’s leaders, and they deserve to be better compensated.  In this budget, I recommend a $50 million pay raise for our state’s public school teachers phased in over two years.  This will be the second pay raise in five years.  Legislative leadership continues to advocate for our teachers, and I look forward to working with the Legislature on this new plan.

The state’s correctional officers lag $4,000 in pay behind the regional average, making it difficult to recruit and retain personnel in our correctional facilities.  For that reason I recommend just over $7 million for the Department of Corrections to bring its employees’ salaries in line with our neighboring states.  This increase will ultimately make our state’s prisons safer for employees, offenders, and the communities where they are located.

I am also proposing that $1 million go to the Department of Corrections for workforce training programs for those who are incarcerated.  Among the best ways to ensure that offenders do not return to prison is to make sure they have the ability to get a job when they leave.  Additionally, I recommend that $6 million go to the first phase of repairing Unit 29 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the facility for close custody offenders. 

We have the important responsibility to take care of the children in our state’s custody.  I am asking the Legislature to fund the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services $26 million above last year’s allocation to provide the necessary resources for these vulnerable children to bring the state in compliance with the court-ordered staffing and technical needs.  Of this expenditure, $400,000 is for retaining social work students who have a desire to go into public service.  A stipend will be created for eligible undergraduate and graduate students interested in a career at the MDCPS.

In another effort to retain our best and brightest students, I am proposing an $8.5 million increase for the Institutions of Higher Learning’s Student Financial Aid program.  When students stay in state for school, they are more likely to take on a career in the state.  To fund the future of Mississippi we must commit these additional resources.

We also strive to retain our state’s physicians in Mississippi.  The Rural Physician Scholarship Program is one that allows our doctors who want to live and work in rural areas an incentive to do so.  I ask that the Legislature allocate $600,000 to fund and grow the scholarship to cover the rising costs of medical school as well as recruit more students to enroll in the program.

To keep the motoring public safe on our highways, it is important that we fund a trooper school.  With nearly one-third of Mississippi Highway Safety Patrolmen eligible to retire today, this $7 million expenditure is critical.  Furthermore, I ask the Legislature devote almost $1.5 million to the State Crime Lab’s Medical Examiner.  Currently there are two doctors who conduct over 1,500 autopsies per year, including over 300 homicides that must be investigated.  Adding medical examiners will increase the pace of investigations and help bring closure to families who want to know what happened to their loved ones.

I have proposed spending $1 million at the Department of Health for disease prevention.  With the transmission of syphilis on the rise nationally and Hepatitis A breaking out locally, I am charging the Department of Health to immediately expand efforts to find, treat, and prevent the spread of disease in Mississippi.

A topic that we often do not discuss except in times of tragedy is mental health.  To bring this topic into the mainstream and to help those struggling with mental illness, I am asking the Legislature to allocate an additional $1 million to the Department of Mental Health for community-based services.  These services will allow those with certain mental disorders to remain in the community through mobile treatment.

This past August, I called a special session of the Mississippi Legislature to address our state’s infrastructure needs.  In a strong display of bipartisanship, legislators were able address these needs in a comprehensive manner.  During these historic five days the Legislature passed legislation to infuse over $1 billion into infrastructure over five years without raising taxes by using revenues from a newly-created state lottery, internet sales, sports betting, and revenue bonds.  Legislation was also enacted to justly divide the BP economic damages between the lower six counties and the remainder of the state.

It has been a historic year in Mississippi, and the future looks bright. What we have accomplished economically is a success, and economic development, job growth, and revenue have all taken a step in the right direction.  This Executive Budget Recommendation highlights the needs in our state to keep our citizens and our communities both safe and prosperous.  It will enhance our educational institutions, continue to reform our corrections and criminal justice systems, and increase the protection of our foster children.  Now is the time to work together and ensure these recommendations are properly implemented.​

FY 2020 Executive Budget Recommendation

2020 Budget Performance Measures​