Mississippi leaders clash over spending virus relief money

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – By agreement of Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, the Mississippi Legislature will reconvene the 2020 Legislative Session at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 1. 

The Legislature recessed its 125-day Session temporarily on March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Before the legislature reconvened, State House and Senate leaders held a news conference.

There is a divide between the Legislature and Governor Tate Reeves. The governor believes he has the sole authority under emergency powers to spend $1.25 billion in CARES Act funds. Legislative leaders said he does not.

Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said they will pass a bill to move the funds into the Legislative Budget Office Contingency Fund. They said the CARES Act funds are specifically directed for the state to decide where the money goes.

“The way that we propose to appropriate the money, he can veto it and send it back. So, we’re not excluding him from the process. But the way he wants to do it or is proposing to do it, is excluding us from the process and that is not the way our system is designed,” said Gunn.

Reeves tweeted the following before the news conference:

The action by Gunn and Hosemann is bi-partisan and could generate enough support to override any veto by the governor. Reeves will delivered a response during his daily news briefing.

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