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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant says budget will be the main focus when session begins

Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he won’t ask lawmakers to consider a lottery during a special session next month.

The session will focus on money, Bryant told The Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday. The session begins June 5, and the governor tells which issues they may consider.

Legislators need to write budgets for the attorney general’s office and the Department of Transportation for the year that begins July 1.

Bryant, a Republican, said he might also ask them to consider “budget controls” to address credit rating agencies’ concerns about Mississippi’s finances.  He said proposals are being developed and he’s not ready to reveal details.

“I’m very serious about the ratings bureaus and doing whatever we can to improve the budget situation,” Bryant said. “We are working on some language now — not to the point I can really share it…. But there are a few things the ratings bureaus have brought forward that we could address…. Hopefully, we can strengthen some controls on the budget, such as more easily identifying one-time money.”

During the regular session that ended in late March, legislators could not agree on a long-term funding plan for highways and bridges. Bryant said that will be on the special session agenda only if House and Senate leaders agree on a plan before then.

State tax collections have fallen short of expectations for most months the past year and a half. Bryant asked lawmakers earlier this year to consider creating a lottery as a way to generate money, but that idea — like most lottery proposals the past two decades — died with little debate. Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery.