JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The divide between Governor Tate Reeves and Republican legislative leaders was on full display on Friday.
The governor believes he has the sole authority, under emergency powers, to spend the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funds. Legislative leaders said he does not.
Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann led a bill the moves the funds to the watch and command of the Legislature. They said the funds are specifically directed for the state to decide where the money goes, not for Reeves to decide.
“I would prefer not to be here today, calling my legislators back, but there is something bigger than me and bigger than the rest, bigger than this building and the constitution and that’s who allocates this money that is paid to the State of Mississippi. We have a duty to do that, and we have and the Mississippi legislature will do that today,” said Hosemann.
But Reeves is not backing down, saying he does have the emergency powers to allocate the money.
“I know there are those in the Legislature that are well intentioned. I know that they mean well. They just think this really ain’t that big a deal. I’m telling you, it’s a big deal. It matters. It matters to your mom or your grandmom. It matters to all those people in nursing homes that we’re trying to get care to. It all matters,” said Reeves.
The governor will lock into a battle with the Legislature, adding they care more about power than people. Reeves also wanted to hire a third party legal and accounting team. The company would get a cut of the $1.25 billion Mississippi received from the federal government to oversee how coronavirus pandemic relief funds are spend.
Reeves planned to announce more openings on Friday, but with the huge spike in cases, he decided to hold off on that move.