On this wet, cold and getting colder January day, the Mississippi State Supreme Court turned on the heat — and the otherwise dignified Chief Justice William Waller, Jr. gave the State’s hitch-up-your-britches Governor a wedgie when he officially broke the news:
The Mississippi Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, said Friday that Gov. Haley Barbour does not have the constitutional authority to cut the budget of the state’s court system.
Governors have been legislatively enabled to cut the budget to ensure Constitutional compliance; however, the State law says the governor can’t cut any program’s budget by more than five percent until he has cut every program’s budget by that amount.
The Supreme Court’s En Banc Administrative Order says that compliance with the Constitution also includes exempting the courts from the Governor’s cuts citing provisions for separation of power.
The State Fiscal Officer’s authority to make budget cuts pursuant to Section 27-104-13, or otherwise, is limited to “agencies” and “the Mississippi Department of Transportation,” and does not extend to the judiciary, which is constitutionally-established as a separate branch of government, rather than an “agency.”
The Order points to the distinction between a “separate branch of government” and an “agency”; however, in terms of the State budget, the distinction is between “units of government” and “arms of government”, more commonly known here as “general fund agencies” and “special fund agencies”.
Special fund agencies represent two distinctly different arms. One is the arm of the federal government and the other is actually called just that – other special funds and boy are they ever Continue reading “Well, someone had to, so here it is – Mississippi’s State Budget 101”