Worse problems than a budget surplus

Published 11:17 pm Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mississippi could face worse challenges than trying to figure out what to do with a $10 million surplus in the state budget.

That’s how much state officials are projecting revenues will be above expectations when the fiscal year ends June 30.

They say individual and corporate income tax growth related to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina resulted in the extra money. “We’re going into the next fiscal year in good financial shape,” says state economist Phil Pepper.

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Legislators already are salivating over how to spend the $10 million.

Some are talking about giving more funds to universities to prevent further tuition increases.

There will, of course, be other proposals, such as funding early childhood education or spending more on mental health facilities — all worthy causes.

One thing is certain. When the Legislature meets again, there won’t be a shortage of requests for money.

And who knows? Someone may even advocate a tax decrease.

But history has shown that budget surpluses in Mississippi, as in most states, usually are short lived.