Governor Barbour announced $54-million in additional cuts to the current-year state budget. Though MAEP was spared in this round of cuts, the Educable Child program was cut $593,000 and Vocational & Technical Education took at $1.5-million hit for a total cut to K-12 education of $2.1-million. Agencies included in this round of cuts had their budgets reduced by 5%. National Board Certified Teacher supplements are not affected by these cuts.
The governor announced these reductions in response to the continued decline in state revenues. November revenue came in 6.88%, or $25-million, below projections. Governor Barbour noted that an additional $160-million in cuts will have to be made in order to avoid running a deficit in the current year; however, he is limited by law in how he can make cuts. He anticipates that, once the Legislature returns in January, they will either give him broader authority to make additional cuts or the Legislature will itself impose additional cuts.
The continued decline in state revenue does not bode well for the coming budget year, and legislators will face challenges the magnitude of which they have not faced in years when they convene in January. It will be important for all parties, from local school district officials, to legislators, to our state’s highest officers, to operate prudently and to set priorities that will position Mississippi for success as we recover from this recession. Certainly, nothing is more important to the future of our state than is a well-educated citizenry.