Barbour on House spending plan: ‘They think the future is Friday’

GULFPORT — With the state House and Senate in a stalemate over passing a budget, Gov. Haley Barbour toured the state Monday outlining a “compromise” spending plan he’s submitted.

“I just want to make sure the public has good info about the budget,” Barbour said in a meeting with the Sun Herald on Monday. He said that “in a spirit of compromise” he’s increased his spending proposal by $45 million, to $5.447 billion, “albeit reluctantly” because he doesn’t believe state revenue will pick up much in the coming year.

But House leaders say Barbour’s proposal — which appears to have Senate support — would not adequately fund education, mental health facilities and other programs. After last week criticizing Republican Barbour for being absent from budget debates while running an exploratory campaign for president, Democratic House leaders this week accused Barbour of “last-minute posturing” and “political grandstanding.” They said his re-entry this late into the process thwarted agreements between the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate. Lawmakers missed their Saturday deadline for budget agreements, and would either have to extend their current legislative session or leave and come back in special session, either of which will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a day — more than $20,000 a day just for lawmakers pay, food, travel and housing.

Sun Herald
3/28/11