State can function without budget

Gov. Haley Barbour said state government could operate and spend money without the Legislature approving a budget when the fiscal year ends in nine days.

“I don’t anticipate critical services of state government shutting down if the Legislature fails and doesn’t pass a budget,” he said. “There’re some things that can be done by executive order.”

However, the Republican governor expressed confidence he, the House and Senate will end their deadlock and agree on how to fund state government before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

“If it isn’t, it’ll be as soon thereafter as there can be an agreement,” he said Friday.

However, House Speaker Billy McCoy said Barbour is overstepping his powers as governor and standing in the way of an agreement. He’s imposing too many demands on how the Legislature should pass the budget and “avert a state shutdown,” he said.

“Governor Barbour is seeking to be a dictator,” said the Legislature’s top-ranking Democrat.

“Under the constitution, we’re not to be held hostage by a governor … (who) says you will agree with me or nothing,” McCoy said. “Not this governor or any governor has the right to find a way to be a dictator in this state, so far as the fiscal affairs or any other affairs are concerned.”