Mississippi leaders clash over spending power

Mississippi lawmakers have returned to the capitol for a showdown with the governor over spending power.

At issue is who decides how to spend more than $1.25 billion the state is receiving from the federal government for coronavirus relief.

Republican leaders of the House and Senate point out that the Mississippi Constitution gives spending authority to the legislature.

But Republican Governor Tate Reeves says a state law gives the governor some spending power during emergencies.

The money in question is separate from unemployment payments. Both Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn spoke out on the role the legislature will play in allocating Cares Act funding. Lt. Gov. Hosemann said, “It was not designated for utilization by the executive branch of government. It was given to the state of Mississippi. It was given to the taxpayers of Mississippi.”

House Speaker Gunn said, “There’s a way we can propose to appropriate the money. He can veto the bills and send them back. So, we’re not excluding him from the process. But the way he wants to do it, proposing to do it, is excluding us from the process and that is not the way the system is designed.”

The action by Gunn and Hosemann is bipartisan and could generate enough support to override any veto by the governor.

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