Mississippi Leadership Remains Committed to Higher Education
With the legislative session having come to a close, Bully Bloc leaders have compiled an update regarding several categories of key importance to the organization. Overall, the current leadership of state government remains committed to higher education in times when state finances are not as bright as they once were. However, Bully Bloc must remain committed to reminding our leaders of the value and importance of higher education, even when resources are limited.
Our sincere thanks go to those elected officials that supported these important requests and others.
While state revenue is struggling to meet estimates and Governor Bryant had to make two mid-year budget cuts, the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) escaped many of the more drastic cuts imposed on other state agencies. The general budget came to $405,692,224 for FY 2017, compared to $418,053,400 in FY 2016, equaling a cut of around 2.96 percent. This cut was equal to the amount the IHL system was cut during FY 2016, while the average cuts to other agencies were around 5 percent on top of the mid-year cuts. This general support appropriation will be dispersed to universities through the funding formula established by the IHL board. Under the formula, Mississippi State University (MSU) received $96,299,366 for FY 2017, down from $99,582,581 in FY 2016 (pre-cut).
There was an increase of capital expense funds distributed to MSU. The university received an increase of $365,261 for a total of $2,594,557. This money is vitally important to the ongoing everyday maintenance of the university physical plant, and adequately uses one-time money on one-time expenses.
The same approach was taken with the IHL Agricultural Units who also faced cuts, but much less than the average agency. The total support for IHL Agricultural Units was $87,959,362 for FY 2017, compared to $89,531,974 for FY 2016, equaling a cut of 1.76 percent. All in all, the Agriculture Units at MSU will face approximately $500,000 less in funding when compared to FY 2016 (pre-cut).
While not ideal, the IHL system faced cuts that are much more manageable than other agencies in state government. However, declining and sluggish revenue remain a concern as FY 2017 begins, and the budgeting for FY 2018 will be a battle to maintain at least level support.
The bond bill from 2016 was a bright spot for IHL, especially MSU. IHL as a whole received authorization for $61,897,500 for FY 2017, of which MSU received $10 million for a new music building and $4 million for the new dairy and poultry science building. In addition to the FY 2017 authorization, an additional $33,500,000 was authorized to IHL projects for FY 2018, including the remaining funding for both the music building ($4 million) and dairy and poultry science Building ($12 million). While the money is authorized to be issued over two years, this is a significant victory for MSU and other IHL entities, which allows them to proceed in planning and letting of bids to construct these facilities. Bully Bloc has been a strong advocate for multi-year bond plans.
Of particular note to the MSU-Starkville community, the legislature also funded the Starkville-Oktibbeha County Partnership School at the requested amount of $10 million, with $5 million coming in FY 2017 and the additional $5 million coming in FY 2018.
Fall 2016 Report provided by Bucky Murphy, Vice Chair Government Affairs
Bully Bloc is a non-partisan political action committee not affiliated with Mississippi State University.