Mississippi lawmakers near end of budget negotiations

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers say they’re getting closer to agreeing on details of a budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.

Saturday is the deadline for House and Senate negotiators to file final versions of bills for the $5.5 billion budget.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Eugene “Buck” Clarke, a Republican from Hollandale, told The Associated Press on Wednesday there are no major disagreements. He says there are some complex issues to work out, but he doesn’t expect the two sides to have trouble meeting the deadline.

The process may be smoothed somewhat by the addition of $97 million, approved by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee last week. The decision to add the extra money was made in response to increased economic activity in the state.