The Parents Campaign, one of the largest left-leaning education lobbying organizations in the state, has issued a statement in support of stripping the Governor of his authority to direct spending under the emergency provisions as this pandemic continues to affect Mississippians.
Legislative leaders have called their members back into session today to debate who has the spending authority over the $1.25 billion the state received from the CARES Act passed by Congress – the Governor under the emergency declaration or the “State,” by interpretation, the Legislature.
As reported on Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves has repeatedly indicated that he is willing to work with the Legislature, and across the aisle, to insure funds are put to the best use for all of Mississippi, including expanding broadband and investing more in distance learning as schools adjust during the pandemic. But he has also said emergency code sections in state law allow him to execute actions on behalf of the state and its people during these times.
It is well documented that The Parents Campaign has not been a friend of state or legislative Republicans, routinely endorsing Democratic candidates and advocating liberal policy positions contrary to conservative governance throughout the past decade as Republicans gained majorities in the Mississippi Legislature.
Now, at least thus far in the 2020 session, The Parents Campaign has found its voice within the legislative leadership overseeing the supermajority, from teacher pay to education policy and now emergency spending.
In a release issued Friday morning, The Parents Campaign states, “The Parents’ Campaign supports the actions taken by Lieutenant Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn to affirm the appropriations authority of the Legislature and to protect the rights of Mississippians to have input into and oversight of the way the CARES Act funds are spent.”
“As public education advocates, we have seen how important it is to have funds appropriated through an open process that is subject to public scrutiny and accountability,” the release states. “That is why our state constitution gives appropriation authority to the Legislature, to the men and women we elect to represent us – those who understand the unique needs of our communities, of our local school districts, of the small businesses that populate our downtowns, and of the individuals who are our neighbors.”
The legislation that is proposed over the next few days would change the Governor’s spending authority regarding the $1.25 billion alone, according to Lt. Governor Hosemann on the Gallo Show Friday morning, and not affect his future emergency spending authority. Those funds, Hosemann said, are meant for reimbursements to the state and for education distance learning. The Lt. Governor told Gallo lawmakers on a bipartisan basis wanted their input into where these funds are utilized, specifically to insure their county or constituents received a piece of the pie.
“I don’t really give a damn who is in charge of this money. What I care about is the people who need it and they need it now,” Reeves said in his press conference Thursday.