UPDATE: State budget writers meet behind closed doors

JACKSON – Mississippi lawmakers showed no signs of progress Wednesday as negotiators continued to discuss possibilities for a nearly $5 billion state budget.

The two Appropriations Committee chairmen — Republican Sen. Alan Nunnelee and Democratic Rep. Johnny Stringer — met privately for an hour.

When they emerged, they said the biggest disagreement is still over the Senate’s proposal to put $60 million into a reserve fund that could be tapped in January 2011, after the federal stimulus money disappears. House leaders oppose that.

Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez asked Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to consider appointing new negotiators from the Senate. Bryant showed no sign that he’d do so.

The Associated Press

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