From the SunHerald…

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, GOP candidate and presumptive frontrunner for governor, wants to cancel budget hearings this month and forgo drafting a 2012 budget until new legislative leaders take office in early 2012.

House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, opposes this. He said it’s lawmakers’ job, even if they are about to leave office, to draft a budget proposal.

In a letter to McCoy, Bryant noted Mississippi will have a new House speaker, new lieutenant governor, new Senate appropriations chairman and new Senate president pro tem. All those serving in these positions are also members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which drafts a legislative budget proposal.

McCoy said the law requires the budget committee to meet.

Bryant said the committee has cancelled its fall hearings in the past, and doing so would save taxpayers thousands of dollars in expenses. He said the committee could meet in November for a day with the governor and come up with a revenue estimate, and skip the two weeks of hearings with state agency leaders to hear their budget requests.

A Bryant spokesman said the lieutenant governor wants to discuss the issue further with McCoy.

Usually, the budget the Legislature passes in its annual session is quite different from the proposal the budget committee submits.

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