Budget: Two mules and one turnip

For much of the last seven years, Mississippi government has unfortunately been defined by an ongoing and escalating political enmity between Republican Gov. Haley Barbour and Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy.

That observation is not an indictment of either leader. It is a simple statement of political fact.

With the help of two back-to-back Republican lieutenant governors, Barbour has been able to mold Senate Republicans and a handful of conservative Democrats into a coalition that has made him a stronger governor than Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution would seem to allow – at the House’s expense.

In the House, McCoy parlayed a stellar career as a champion of public education and public health care to his initial election as speaker by being able to bridge the gap between rural white Democrats and the Legislative Black Caucus.