Speaker McCoy looks for “Hail Mary” in budget playbook

From the Speaker’s office:
An obviously frustrated and grim-faced Speaker Billy McCoy on Thursday said he hopes the Senate playbook includes a “Hail Mary” because the House is “at the end of its rope” in trying to reach an agreement over the state’s 2010 $5 billion budget.

“While House negotiators have compromised and totally abandoned positions in order to accommodate what were believed to be requirements to avert a state shutdown, Senate leaders simply move the ‘target’ as they apparently await instructions from Governor Barbour,” Speaker McCoy said. “They asked for $60 million to be set aside for the 2011 election year appropriations. We found extra money to do that, even though the state has more than $300 million already in the ’rainy day’ fund and other reserves. Governor Barbour wants $90 million in new taxes on Mississippi hospitals. While the House prefers no tax on the ‘sick and dying’, we have agreed to a $57 million levy. What more can we do?

“Apparently Governor Barbour has his eye on Iowa, New Hampshire and a Republican strategy on the national level,” the Speaker added. “He obviously is not responding to the people of Mississippi who elected him. The Senate says the Governor is not manipulating their decision. Why do they ‘dilly dally’ with nit- picking items cloaked in political philosophy until he’s back at the Capitol?”

When asked about what happens such as agencies like the Mississippi Department of Transportation who have sent notices to terminate construction contracts on June 30 if no budget agreement is reached, McCoy said, “We’re in uncharted waters. Who knows?”
Potential personnel furloughs could mean that “retirement wire transfers and employee checks” on and after July 1 could be delayed, McCoy said.

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