Republican Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippi will apply for federal stimulus money for education and won't have to rearrange the state budget to do so.
Barbour had said earlier that the state may have to shift funds around to meet the requirements in the bill. However, Barbour said Thursday in a letter to legislators, superintendents and school board members that he's been assured by federal officials that Mississippi meets the requirements allowing states to access the funds.
"Although I would have voted against this legislation were I in Congress, I intend to apply for the approximately $98 million in funding for K-12 education," Barbour wrote to legislators.
"Our taxpayers, and their children and grandchildren are on the hook for the debt resulting from this federal spending, and it does not require us to raise taxes or make other negative policy changes, so I believe Mississippians should receive the extra funds for education purposes."
Sen. Hob Bryan, a Democrat from Amory, said Thursday that when lawmakers crafted the current budget, they included provisions about what to do if Mississippi receives federal stimulus money. The state fiscal year began July 1.
Congress approved the federal money last week.
Bryan said Barbour should have taken a closer look at the issue before saying earlier that the state would not accept the funds.
Barbour, meanwhile, said the 2012 fiscal year "is poised to be the most difficult budgetary year our state has had in recent memory" and urged districts to set aside the money.
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