Barbour vetoes community college budget bill

By The Associated Press

JACKSON – Gov. Haley Barbour on Thursday vetoed a community college funding bill because he says it’s not part of an overall balanced budget for the state for the coming fiscal year.
Barbour said it’s too early to set any single part of the budget.
He said that he and legislators have not even agreed on how much revenue Mississippi expects to collect during the fiscal year that begins July 1
“I believe it would be foolish budgeting policy to sign an appropriations bill tying the hands of budget negotiators during this difficult and important process,” Barbour wrote in his veto message.
Legislators started working several months ago on a $5.4 billion overall state budget for the coming year.
House and Senate leaders face a March 28 deadline to strike a deal on details of the budget, then the plans will be sent to each chamber for debate.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, are working on a separate bill to study whether funding for the 15 community colleges and eight universities should be based on graduation rates or other indicators of productivity.
The Education Achievement Council would study the issue and make a recommendation to lawmakers in 2013.
Enrollment is an important part of deciding how much money community colleges and universities receive now.
Barbour said months ago that productivity should be considered in higher education funding.
Eric Clark, executive director of the Board of Community and Junior Colleges, said enrollment should continue to influence funding because people often enter the two-year schools to take specific courses without graduating.