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New court decision legitimizes Miss....

New court decision legitimizes Miss. lawmakers raid on agencies’ money

By: Magnolia Tribune - January 21, 2008

The Clarion-Ledger, 1/21/8

A new court ruling legitimatizes what the Mississippi Legislature has been doing for more than a decade: Raiding small, fee-funded agencies to pay for large budget items such as schools, roads and prisons.

While the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with only one entity, the court clearly found that funds authorized by the Legislature and collected by or on behalf of a state agency — even one that considered itself private — were public money and could be diverted into the treasury for any use lawmakers want.

Such “one-time money” is pulled from state agencies that often keep millions of dollars in reserve to pay bills.

And, with less than comforting economic news this past week, more shifting of funds is possible.

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