Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (pictured) says he wants a late-session push from legislators to enact a state lottery as a way to possibly generate tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue that could be used for the state budget.
Additionally, Bryant told The Associated Press in an interview in Jackson on Thursday that he is also asking that contracts for goods and services be thoroughly reviewed by the state Department of Finance and Administration in order to help find ways to save money. Bryant told the news agency, “When you’re looking at some of the challenges that we’re having and you see a revenue bill that would generate somewhere between 50 and 60 million dollars – just an estimate – I think that’s something that needs to be taken seriously by the members of both the House and the Senate.”
Since July 1, the start of the budget year, the governor has had to make three rounds of spending cuts due to tax collections continuing to fall short of expectations, as reported by the AP.
For several months the Mississippi governor has championed the idea of a state lottery. On January 17, during his State of the State address, Bryant said, according to his prepared text, that allowing a state lottery would be a way of generating revenue without raising taxes. He said that neighboring Arkansas received $80 million from its lottery over the last budgeted year, some of it, he said, was from tickets purchased by Mississippi residents. The 62-year-old Bryant added, “When we see traffic crowded on the Mississippi River bridge taking revenue to our neighboring state, it may be time to face a new reality,” and, “We can no longer contain the people’s desire for a lottery, we can only force them to travel.”
While earlier this month, a daily fantasy sports bill got the nod from the Mississippi House to move on to the Senate, lottery proposals died there. Bryant hopes that in the next few weeks a proposal could gain new life in the Senate. The legislative session, which lasts three months, is scheduled to end on April 2nd.