With the exception of Medicaid and the Institutes for Higher Education and several others, most state agencies will be asking for slight increases in their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Each summer, the budget cycle for Mississippi state agencies begins as agency directors put together their budget requests.
In September, they present these to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for review, which receives an estimate of the state’s tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee will release its budget on December 7, which gives appropriators a starting point for the upcoming session which will start in January.
The revenue forecast for fiscal 2022, which starts July 1, might not be as dire if this year’s tax revenues are any guide. The August revenue report showed collections were $64.6 million over the estimate for the year to date. Fiscal year 2020, which ended on June 30, ended with a $48.3 million surplus.
The state Department of Medicaid is asking for its lowest request in nine years, at $898.6 million. In fiscal 2020, state taxpayers spent $931 million on the program, which represented 16.32 percent of all general fund outlays.
For fiscal 2021, which ends July 1, lawmakers appropriated $899 million. One of the reasons for the reduction is the decreased use of medical services due to the shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department ended fiscal 2020 on June 30 with a $198 million surplus caused by larger payments under the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage program.
Enrollment for Medicaid, after a high of 746,151 in 2015, has decreased to 675,125 for 2020.
The Mississippi Department of Education is asking for a miniscule increase in its general education program outlay, after $947 million was appropriated for 2021 and a similar amount for 2022.Most of these programs are funded by the Education Enhancement Fund which receives revenue from the state sales tax.
The Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula is designed to increase every year and fiscal 2022 will be no different. In fiscal 2020, the Legislature appropriated $2.244 billion for MAEP, which is distributed to school districts around the state. Total K-12 education spending represented 39.7 percent of the state’s $5.741 billion general fund budget.
For 2021, the Legislature appropriated $2.286 billion.
The MAEP formula calls for $2.549 billion or a difference of $263 million. The formula has only been fully funded by the Legislature twice since it was passed and the difference between what lawmakers appropriate and what the formula specifies is usually about $220 million to $230 million. According to a state Supreme Court decision, lawmakers aren’t bound by the formula when deciding how much to appropriate for K-12 education.
The MAEP formula uses factors such as average daily attendance, number of teachers per 1,000 students and an at-risk component to account for students that are living below the poverty line to calculate the average cost of sending one student to school.
Using successful school districts as a baseline, the numbers are recalculated every four years and are adjusted for inflation with numbers provided by the state economist.
Department of Health is asking for a slight increase, $1.6 million, in its budget request for fiscal 2022 after receiving $502 million in appropriations for 2021 and $319 million for 2020. The increase is due to COVID-19
The Institutes of Higher Learning is asking for a $19 million cut for fiscal 2022. In fiscal 2021, lawmakers allocated $1.249 billion and the IHL requested $1.23 billion after receiving $1.221 billion in 2020.
The Department of Human Services, which manages most of the state’s welfare programs such as TANF and WIC, is asking lawmakers for a slight increase of $10.4 million for 2022. The agency requested $1.358 billion after receiving $1.348 billion in 2021 and $1.039 billion in 2020.
The Department of Public Safety is requesting a slight increase for 2022 of $5.9 million after receiving $198 million in 2021 and $157 million in 2020.
As for the Department of Corrections, their request is for a small increase, $6.648 million after receiving $358 million in 2021 and $350 million in 2020.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation, which receives most of its funds from the gasoline tax, is requesting a $98 million budget increase. After spending $1.089 billion in fiscal 2020 and receiving an appropriation of $1.086 billion for fiscal 2021, the agency is requesting $1.185 billion for 2022.
The Mississippi Development Authority, which handles economic development for the state, is asking for nearly a two percent increase in its budget from fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2022. The agency spent $75 million in state funds in fiscal 2020 and $104 million for this fiscal year.