The budget does not include any money for administrative expenses to expand Medicaid, which is an option starting Jan. 1, 2014, under the federal health insurance law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in June, it said states could choose whether to expand Medicaid, and Bryant says he opposes it. About 1 in 5 Mississippi residents already is enrolled in the program, and estimates show an expansion could take enrollment to 1 in 4.
The governor's proposed education spending increases also include $1 million for dropout intervention programs, $2 million in scholarship programs for high-achieving students who want to become teachers, $3 million to expand the Mississippi Building Blocks pilot program for early childhood education in some parts of the state and $2 million for a merit-pay pilot program for teachers. He said four school districts have volunteered to participate in the merit pay program: Rankin County, Lamar County, Gulfport and Clarksdale.
Bryant's budget includes an additional $8.5 million in the coming year for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, with some of that going toward training new troopers.
Bryant proposes budgeting an additional $29 million for the state Department of Corrections for the current budget year, which ends June 30, to help with the expense of housing inmates.
"If you're going to break the law, you are going to do the time," he said.