JACKSON -- The 14-member Legislative Budget Committee, which includes Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Speaker Billy McCoy, have reached a budget agreement, various sources confirm.
The agreement was reached Tuesday afternoon after some intense debate and will be voted on in public on Dec. 15.
The Budget Committee agreement is especially signifiant this year because of the deep cuts that are expected to have to be made because of the dramatic slowdown in state revenue collections. The proposal will include those deep cuts. Gov. Haley Barbour released his budget proposal in November.
The full Legislature will begin work on a budget in January when the 2010 session begins. The Budget Committee proposal is normally viewed as a sort of "starting point" from where the full Legislature begins its budget work.
State law calls for the Budget Committee to release a proposal in December before the start of the regular session. But in 2006, the Committee could not reach agreement and did not present a proposal to the full Legislature.
The fact that legislative leaders on the Budget Committee reached agreement gives hope that the full Legislature can do the same during the framework of the regular 90-day session on a real budget. Last year, legislators could not and the process dragged out until the end of June.