SALTER – Budget standoff yields anxious state employees, bitterly divided House, Senate

The budget standoff between state lawmakers centers on a fundamental disagreement over the question of whether to hold back $60 million of funds available for the next budget year for the future to help cover Medicaid costs.

Gov. Haley Barbour and the Republican-led Senate wants to save the $60 million and carry it forward. The Democrat-controlled House says there’s no good reason not to use the money now.

“The budget negotiations failed and the regular session deadlocked because Gov. Barbour would not allow the Senate to compromise with the House position on full funding for public education,” said Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, a member of the budget conference committee. “The House and Senate had a deal three times, but Haley Barbour is the elephant in the room, so to speak. He’s promised not to cut the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and his budget underfunds public education by $40 million.”

“The governor’s budget doesn’t balance, so now he wants to take money from education and in doing so, he’s gone back on his word,” Brown said. “He insists on cutting K-12 education to put money in a savings account for future years. ”

Clarion-Ledger
6/8/9