Stimulus bypass appears dead

The House passed a resolution last month to bypass Gov. Haley Barbour and accept millions of dollars in unemployment compensation.

Barbour said he will reject part of the stimulus money because accepting it would require the state to change its laws to give unemployment benefits to people seeking part-time work. They currently don’t qualify for the payments.

Another Senate resolution urges Barbour to accept all of Mississippi’s share of the stimulus, which is estimated at $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion. The money covers 27 months, from October 2008 through December 2010.

Hewes, a Republican from Gulfport, said Thursday he won’t bring either resolution up for a vote.

“There’s not enough support in the committee to bring it out,” Hewes said. “It would materially change the manner in which we handle the unemployment compensation.”

Hewes said he’s still receiving details about the federal plan.

House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said he was disappointed with Hewes’ decision. It would take approval of both chambers for legislators to bypass the governor and accept any stimulus money Barbour rejects.

“As I’ve said before, a person who has lost a wage-earning position through no fault of his or her own ought to fully access the package that Congress passed,” McCoy said in a statement.

Clarion Ledger
3/20/9