Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour Friday ordered $21 million in cuts to state agencies, bringing the total agency reductions to nearly 8.7% for the current fiscal year.
Revenue in January fell at a faster rate than expected and forced the governor to make a fourth round of cuts. The cuts affect nearly all agencies except those exempt by state statute, including the Legislature and the Supreme Court, Barbour said.
“We are simply taking in less money every month and we must cut spending to keep a balanced budget as required by law,” the governor said in a release.
Revenue in January was 11.2%, or $40.5 million, lower than anticipated. Analysts now estimate the total budget shortfall will hit $458.5 million by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Barbour said he is required by state law to balance the budget when revenue falls below estimates for the fiscal year but he is saddled with cumbersome regulations that require him to make even, across-the-board reductions.
He said across-the-board cuts have affected such agencies as the Department of Corrections, whose budget has been reduced by $30 million. Barbour expressed concerns that additional cuts in the corrections budget could result in thousands of prisoners being released.
The governor has asked lawmakers for the authority to be flexible with additional cuts.