Hood drops challenge over Barbour’s veto, claims victory

A legal challenge to Gov. Haley Barbour’s partial veto of a 2009 appropriations bill for the Highway Patrol has been dismissed.

The Mississippi Supreme Court, in an order issued Tuesday, said both sides had agreed to end the litigation. The Supreme Court did not address any of the issues raised in the dispute.

The case had been scheduled for oral arguments on April 4.

Barbour, who left office in January of this year, had vetoed an allocation of $3 million in the MDPS budget to cover overtime pay for Highway Patrol troopers. Barbour said the bill would restrict MDPS’s management authority.

As far as troopers are concerned, the issue was resolved when Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson restructured the pay scale for troopers to ensure they get their additional pay. Barbour said Simpson’s actions were acceptable.

“Because the troopers were paid, there is no need to continue the litigation,” Attorney General Jim Hood said Wednesday. “The Supreme Court has already said many times that a governor cannot use his/her veto authority to remove the legislative language directing how money must be spent and still keep the money. A governor may only veto an entire appropriation.

“I saw no need for the State to keep paying for former Governor Barbour’s lawyers to get another decision from the Supreme Court saying the same thing,” Hood said.