November 17, 2014 In News
JACKSON—Governor Phil Bryant presented his Fiscal Year 2016 budget to the Legislature today, calling for a tax credit for working Mississippi families and increasing funding for public education by over $52 million.
“Mississippi should start fiscal year 2016 in the best financial health it’s ever had. This budget addresses the needs of the state while giving back money to the hard working families of Mississippi,” Gov. Bryant said. “The increase in revenues is an opportunity to return money to the taxpayers, not to spend more on government programs.”
This tax credit will allow low to moderate income working families the opportunity to take advantage of a nonrefundable tax credit. This will allow for full or partial relief of an individual’s income tax liability depending on his or her income and filing status.
“I believe the additional money Mississippians will save on taxes will be reinvested in the state’s economy,” Gov. Bryant said. “I look forward to working with the Legislature in providing tax relief to working families, as well as finding ways to reduce the tax burden on small businesses and corporations.”
To make sure the state is protected during uncertain economic times, the tax credit will only be available in years when the “Rainy Day Fund” is full and revenue estimates meet or exceed 3 percent growth.
Gov. Bryant’s $6.2 billion conservative, balanced budget does not spend any one-time revenue on recurring expenses for the second year in a row. It uses the General Fund Revenue estimate jointly adopted on November 10 of $5.6 billion and has additional state support funds totaling $567 million. The FY 2016 General Fund revenue estimate reflects 3 percent growth over FY 2015.
“I commend the Legislature for heeding my call to fill the Rainy Day Fund during last year’s State of the State address. It’s now at its statutory limit of 7.5 percent of appropriated funds and this will shield the state from effects of the unexpected, like an economic downturn or natural disaster.”
Gov. Bryant’s budget will request that the 2-percent set aside rule, which has been used in past years, be suspended due to the “Rainy Day Fund” being full.
Total funding for the MAEP will reach $2.187 billion with a $52.7 million increase in the MAEP formula.
The budget again includes $15 million in funding for the implementation of the Third Grade Reading Gate and $3 million for the Early Learning Collaborative Program. Gov. Bryant’s budget also maintains the commitment of $2,500 pay raises for teachers and meets the full request of $22.6 million for the National Board Certified Teacher Program.
Additionally, an increase of $2.8 million is included for student financial aid programs at the Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning to provide financial assistance for students attending colleges and universities.
“It is critical we continue to support and target key areas that help lead to education success for our students,” Gov. Bryant said. “I will ask the legislature to create the Mississippi Works Scholarship Program which will help students attain additional education and certifications at community colleges as a continuation of the tech prep programs they are participating in at the high school level.”
$3 million is included in the budget for the creation of the Mississippi Works Scholarship Program. Overall spending for public education is $2.5 billion for the 2016 budget period.
Additional budget highlights include:
•An additional $5.1 million for the tourism budget to expand outreach
•An additional $1.1 million for site development grants and marketing
•Recommends continued funding of $52 million of state support funds to the Office of State Aid Road Construction
•Level funds military department and veterans’ affairs
•Recommends 3 percent pay increase for on the road troopers and employees of the driver services division of the Department of Public Safety
•Maintains commitment of Driver License Modernization
•Level funding of MDOC at $346 million
•Additional $329,000 for needs of more district attorneys across the state
•Maintains level funding for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
•Recommends a funding increase of $2 million for the Wireless Communications Commission (WCC) which manages the MSWIN System for first responder communication. Total WCC funding recommendation is $10 million
•$2 million for the Jackson State University School of Public Health
•Budget includes $1.5 million for the Maternal and Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative that’s to be administered by the Department of Health
•Budget recommends $1.2 million for universities and community colleges to combat teen pregnancy, due to the highest percentage of teen pregnancies occurring in teens between 18 and 19 years old
•This budget maintains the legislative position of funding the Division of Medicaid at previous year’s levels, and Gov. Bryant will work with the Legislature and the Division of Medicaid to support proper funding in the upcoming session
•Budget includes $11.75 million of premium increase to state health plan
•Budget sets aside $50 million for the Capital Expense Fund that’s to be properly managed and spent on true capital needs
•Budget sets aside $385 million for debt service but the number is fluid due to bond issuance