Rule change could crimp lawmakers’ spending power

JACKSON, Miss — Some Democrats are warning that a proposal to change the Mississippi Legislature’s rules could handcuff their ability to seek more money for education.
The proposal, written by House Rules Chairman Mark Formby, R-Picayune, would require that any time lawmakers want to increase spending on an item, they would have to cut spending elsewhere by an equal amount.

The rule will help keep the budget balanced and prevent lawmakers from spending too much, Formby said Friday.

“This just prevents any member from arbitrarily getting an amendment passed that would unbalance the budget,” he said.

Opponents, though, said that it would make it even harder for a majority of House or Senate members to go against the wishes of a chamber’s leadership. They said it will make it impossible to dip
into reserves to spend more, and said it will be equally difficult to wrest money away from other agencies.

“It will prevent any single member of the House or the Senate from being able to impact the appropriations process,” said Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson.

Sun Herald
2/10/12