Governor Tate Reeves has vetoed the bulk of the FY 2021 education budget, two criminal reform bills and a handful of smaller bills on Wednesday night before the midnight deadline.
On Tuesday, Reeves indicated a veto would be a possibility after noting the Legislature had failed to fund the teacher incentive program by approximately $26 million affecting over 20,000 teachers’ pay.
Legislators have admitted the error but said a veto was unnecessary. Appropriators said Wednesday the issue could be resolved when lawmakers returned to the Capitol in January 2021 by essentially filling the gap mid year.
Until the Legislature can reconvene safely and address the bill, the Department of Education will be able to operate on a letter from the Governor.
Reeves also vetoed SB 2123 known as the “Mississippi Correctional Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2020”. Under this bill, inmates convicted of the least serious crimes after June 30, 1995 (the date of the most expansive amendment) would be eligible for parole after serving 25% of their sentences or 10 years, whichever is less. This is something that’s been pushed hard by right/center groups like Empower Mississippi. However, it did have 17 dissenting votes in the Senate on final passage which would likely be enough to sustain a veto.
HB 658 that revised the number of felony convictions eligible for expungement was also vetoed.
This is all against the backdrop of the the legislature not passing a budget for the Department of Marine Resources, which virtually assured a special session would be called.