May 2, 2014 10:52:14 AM
JACKSON -- Gov. Phil Bryant has signed more than 100 bills that fund state government and assorted other proposals that passed during the final days of the 2014 legislative session in early April.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports no major piece of legislation was vetoed by the Republican governor.
Included in the bills signed during the final days by Bryant was a bill that authorizes the issuance of $191.7 million in bonds to finance various construction projects at the universities and community colleges, on state office buildings and on various local, primarily tourism and economic development-related projects.
The proposal is in addition to the $20 million approved for the upcoming three years to help with modernization efforts at the Cooper Tire manufacturing plant in Tupelo.
The package will add nearly $200 million to the state's bonded indebtedness. But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the net result will be to lower Mississippi's bond debt since the state is expected to retire about $230 million in bonds during the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.
The universities will receive $92.8 million for building and renovation projects while the community colleges will receive $23 million.
The $6 billion general fund budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law in recent days is about $200 million more than what was appropriated by the 2013 Legislature. It provides nearly $65 million to provide teachers an across-the-board $1,500 pay raise starting with the new fiscal year. The proposal still underfunds education by more than $255 million.
The budget sets aside funds to provide pay raises to state employees earning less than $30,000 who have not had a raise in four years. Plus, it gives agency directors the authority to give raises to other employees who have not had one in four years if they can find money in their budget to do it.
For perhaps the first time since the devastating recession hit in 2008, almost no agency received an overall cut of any consequence. Budgets for the Division of Medicaid and Corrections - two of the fastest-growing areas of state government - continue to grow.