No one will be watching state revenue and the budget with more bated breath than Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican gubernatorial heir apparent.
Reeves is also the heir apparent of the state budget. Gov. Phil Bryant is term limited, and no one else involved in setting the budget appears to be mounting a run for governor. If things can be turned around, Reeves can champion the budget and say, “See, I told you so, and I cut your taxes.” If not — and particularly if Mississippi government spirals into financial problems like some sister states — opponents both Democratic and Republican will attempt to beat Reeves about the head and shoulders with it.
The current Republican state leadership — with Reeves often taking the lead — had a good run with the budget in its first term starting in 2012. It brought the budget more into true than it had been in years — drastically reducing borrowing and the use of “one-time” money for recurring expenses and other shell games. GOP leaders also managed to fill the rainy-day fund and post some significant increases in education spending and help other agencies that had starved in the Great Recession.