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franklin county times

State economy shows signs of strong recovery

By Staff
Second, we need to enshrine Gov. Fordice's rainy day fund into our state's constitution. It's just common sense that we should set aside a contingency fund for unexpected economic downturns.
Third, we need to stop paying for recurring expenses with non-recurring revenue. The habit of using one-time windfalls to pay for ongoing needs sets up time bombs for future budgets.
Fourth, we need to raise the standard for a so-called critical needs request. We should require that every (state) agency head bringing a critical needs request provide an accompanying suggestion of an offsetting cut elsewhere in the budget.
Fifth, in many years we have over 100 appropriations bills, with at least 20 or 25 of them significant. The bills are considered separately, with none of the constructive pressure of real budgeting. The Legislature is pushed, if only by human nature, to spend and spend and spend, without regard to the big picture.
We can solve this by moving toward a process that allows only one, comprehensive appropriations bill. That way, for every dollar that goes out, there's got to be a dollar going in. And every pet project will have to be considered in light of true state priorities, not slipped through when no one else is looking.
The Star: How do you persuade state House and Senate leaders to adopt your proposed changes to the budget process?
Reeves: Look at where we've been and how we got there. Last year, we had a $709 million dollar structural budget imbalance. That's almost 20 percent of our state budget. Something is wrong when that happens. The system is clearly broken and needs fixing.
When it comes down to it, all of us elected officials want to do what is in the best interest of the people of Mississippi. I believe budget reform is such a glaring need that we can find agreement to get it done.
The Star: Could describe your working relationship with top legislative leaders?
Reeves: When I was elected, I said I'd be a watchdog for the taxpayers. Part of being a watchdog entails making sure the state doesn't spend money we don't have. I worked hard during the session to do my part to make sure the state was living within its means. I developed a great working relationship with the leaders with that same mindset. I had my disagreements with ones who didn't share my fiscally conservative outlook, but we worked together to find common ground.
The Star: What are your top plans for the next year?
Reeves: Being the watchdog for Mississippi taxpayers is always at the top of my list of priorities. A big part of that is working to make sure the state doesn't spend money it doesn't have. Our budget reform measures are a big step toward ensuring this type of fiscal discipline.
I'm working to save taxpayer money by being innovative with our debt management policies. With over $3 billion in debt outstanding, proactive debt management can mean big savings for the taxpayers.
On the other side of the ledger, I'm working to maximize what the state earns on its investments both in our trust funds and on the billions of dollars that flow through state accounts.
The Treasury also manages our college savings plans. Making sure every child in Mississippi has an opportunity to get a college education is critical for our young people and our state as a whole. We're working hard to promote our college savings programs and to make them more accessible and affordable for Mississippi families.

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