Gov. Haley Barbour was wise to shut down the special legislative session that was beginning to look as if it might never end.
The session whimpered to a halt Monday without lawmakers solving the Medicaid budget problem. Instead, the governor acted unilaterally to fill the budget hole with a tax on hospitals that had stalled in the House.
Since May 21, the governor, Senate and House played budget brinkmanship on the Medicaid issue. Even on Monday the House was trying to craft a Medicaid budget solution that included a tobacco tax increase opposed by Barbour. The governor ended the standoff with his plan to enact a solution that doesn’t include the Legislature. Evidently the governor was listening to pleas not to turn the impasse into a major upheaval in the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. Barbour had threatened $375 million in Medicaid cuts, but backed off that and came up with this week’s solution.