According to Attorney General Jim Hood, Mississippi’s fiscal year budget for 2012 will be short by at least $120million due to a bill that inserted some special funds into its general fund. The Budget Transparency and Simplification Act (or the Budget Transparency and Simplification Act) pulls $187million of special funds or moneys that are set aside for specific projects and temporary departments into the general fund and removes interagency fees. Hood claims that at least $79.4million of this money cannot be taken out by law. Hood’s office frequently issues opinions to head of state agencies who have questions about state laws. Hood has offered opinions on recent weeks about how the new law will impact agencies’ budgets, and what special funds they are legally allowed to keep. Hood talked about Thursday’s $120 million figure after going through approximately 20 agencies’ trust funds, funds, and past budgets. Hood stated Thursday that a minimum deficit of $120 million is what Hood was estimating at a press conference. “And there’s more. We don’t yet know how to fix the federal funding losses. Problem is that legislators don’t know how to tell you. They can’t. They don’t know. “When people don’t understand the budget, there is trouble in the making.” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and others have acknowledged that there are legal issues to be resolved when lawmakers meet for their regular session in January. The former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville), apologized for the confusion created by the law, which he and Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke (R-Hollandale) conceptualized. Legislative leaders have been scrutinizing Hood’s statements to various state agencies about the special fund law in recent weeks. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was the one who supported and championed the special fund sweeps bills bill. He said Hood’s views were purely political. Reeves stated last month that Obama’s Mississippi attorney general follows the same approach as Washington’s. “Ignore the law, if it doesn’t suit your political views,” Reeves said. The budget for this year is facing several questions. A $56 million error in budget calculation will need to be rectified. Many agency heads claim that their smaller budgets won’t permit them to collect federal matching funding. The last fiscal year ended June 30, and Gov. Phil Bryant reduced the budget twice last fiscal year and pulled $108 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund in order to pay for revenue shortfalls. Hood stated that he doesn’t believe his office will file any lawsuits regarding budget confusion. However, he believes the Department of Finance and Administration will follow Hood opinions. Hood stated that Hood has every indication that the agencies will follow Hood’s advice. Hood said, “All that we said was what is written in the law.” To support this important work, you can make a recurring gift today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.