About a month ago, I talked about the prospect of Haley Barbour breaking the Mississippi legislature. Mission accomplished.
You don’t believe me? OK, let’s ask David Hampton and Jere Nash. Certainly, they’ll have a different spin on events. Hampton’s July 12 column stated . . .
It was apparent Barbour called the shots throughout, to the point that House negotiators were complaining that struck deals and compromises with senators didn’t mean anything without daddy Barbour’s approval.
That’s pretty harsh. But certainly my friend Jere Nash will come to the Democrat rescue in this PR and governing nightmare that Haley Barbour has exerted upon them. Not quite.
… while it is certainly clear that Haley Barbour has used the powers vested in the office of the Governor in new and different ways to impose his policy preferances on the Legislsature (i.e., calling a special session in the middle of a regular session), by and large he has been able to get done what he wants to get done because members of his party control the Senate and there are enough members of his party in the House to sustain his vetoes (except where property rights are concerned).
Nash ultimately gets it wrong by talking about the “partisan majorities” Barbour enjoys in the legislature. Democrats control the Senate 29-25 and the House 63-49. Though Barbour hasn’t been successful in getting a majority, he has developed “veto-proof” minorities. By and large, those conservatives see things through the same lens that he does.
Ultimately, the House Democrats led by Speaker Billy McCoy bent on all of Haley’s core issues.
1. Saving $60M for FY 2011 and not completely raiding the “rainy day fund”
2 Keeping the cigarette tax increase to close to the national average and bringing parity for non-participating manufacturers
3. Achieving the vast majority of the hospital assessment to shore up Medicaid
4. PSC not getting the powergrab of 11 positions in their alliance with Jim Hood
5. Finally, getting a real balanced budget based on real revenue numbers that has allowances to allow the Governor to make cuts, if needed
But Haley didn’t do it alone. He had lots of help from Lt. Governor Phil Bryant, Senate Appropriations Chair Alan Nunnelee (whose star is on the rise) and key conservatives in the House and Senate that helped hold the line, even when it wasn’t popular.
If Haley can have another session like this last one in 2010, he may cement his legacy with a truly conservative House and Senate in 2011.