Mississippi lawmakers working on budget and bond bills

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers worked Monday to adopt final parts of state spending and borrowing plans for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The state-funded portion of the budget will be about $6 billion, and it includes pay raises for teachers and state employees.

The budget also has an increase in funding for early learning collaboratives. Those preschool programs are partnerships between public school districts and Head Start centers, child care centers or private or parochial schools.

“This is a real good year for education, as far as money going into it,” said House Education Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, a Republican from Long Beach.

Bennett said the state will put an additional $8.2 million into early learning collaboratives, bringing the total for that to about $16 million. The state also will spend $5 million for math coaches who will provide extra instruction in low-rated school districts. The state has had reading coaches in some schools for several years.

Mississippi’s total state government budget for the coming year will be more than $21 billion, which includes the nearly $6 billion in state-source money, plus money from the federal government and other sources, including the state gasoline tax.

The House on Monday adopted the final version of Senate Bill 2971, which would authorize the state to issue bonds to borrow millions for a variety of projects. It includes more than $86 million in bonds to fund repair, renovation and construction at public universities and $35 million for such projects at community colleges.

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