Looming election clouds session
Handling of financial crisis likely to leave voters unhappy

Now, two years into their terms and heading into a significant election season, lawmakers begin another legislative session forced to pick from a hat of budget cutback options. Few of those decisions will be easy or popular.

“Any legislator that was truthful with you would say they’d rather have a financial crisis in the first year after they were elected so maybe the pain would go away by time they head for the voters again,” said Marty Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University.

The chance of the pain going away any time soon is slim. December fell short of revenue expectations for the 16th consecutive month.

Further, Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, is mounting a challenge for Congress against Democratic incumbent Travis Childers in the state’s 1st District. As Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, Nunnelee plays a major role in shaping the state budget. That race will be decided in November of this year.

“We have a governor who could run for president, a lieutenant governor for governor, appropriations chair for Congress – of course it has an impact,” said House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Renzi. “Their actions may be somewhat postured to the office they’re seeking, but it’s just part of the process.”

Clarion-Ledger
1/3/10