MS Gov. Barbour and Senate play game of “chicken”, hold state budget hostage to undercut education, health care

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Jackson, MS – It is June 11, 2009 and Mississippi is 2 months overdue on passage of a state budget. The Republican-controlled state Senate, dominated by Rep. Governor Haley Barbour, and the Democratic-controlled state House are divided over core values.

The House fiscal year 2010 budget fully funds the public education formula, vocational education, special education, school transportation, and Medicaid. The House budget uses new hospital and tobacco buy valium real taxes and a portion of the state’s “rainy day” fund to balance the budget, without which, the House leadership contends, public education and Medicaid cannot be fully funded.

The Senate fiscal year 2010 budget does not fully fund either public education or Medicaid. The Senate budget rejects the use of millions of dollars in hospital and tobacco taxes in the 2010 budget in order to set them aside to be used for the fiscal year 2011 budget, notwithstanding there are hundreds of millions of dollars in the state reserve or “rainy day” fund.

The Governor’s budget cuts education and Medicaid more than the Senate version. The Governor threatens to veto any budget that fully funds public education and Medicaid – that is, any budget that fails to set aside significant portions of new taxes for the 2011 budget. The Senate leadership refuses to cross swords with the Governor: 2011 is an election year.

Southern Echo and the MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable are working with other members of the Education Stakeholders Alliance to achieve full funding of public education and Medicaid.