Impasse, thy name is Haley! In a precursor to a tumultuous regular session in January, the Mississippi Legislature is deadlocked in a special session concerning the passage of bonds to stimulate further economic development in our state. While I have been a supporter of such legislation in the past, it has become apparent to me that this special session is more about making a political statement than creating jobs.
When Gov. Barbour ran for office, he publicly stated on the campaign trail that he was going to be different than other governors in our glorious past. Specifically, he said that he wanted to work harmoniously with the Legislature to move our state forward. Well, if this is a harmonious working relationship, then I am asking for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
Now, seeing the governor in action, it is obvious that he did not want to work with the Legislature, inasmuch as he wanted to control the Legislature. Unfortunately for the good people of Mississippi, the Senate has acquiesced to Haley's wishes, which leaves the Mississippi House of Representatives as the last bastion of hope for the common man.
Now that may sound melodramatic, but let us look at where we are right now. Speaker of the House, Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, met with the governor a month before the special session was called to ask him not to call this session without a comprehensive bond package. The package would have included Northrop Grumman, as well as the state's universities and community colleges, so that we would not have to deal with bond issues in January.
From a pragmatic standpoint, this would allow us to clearly define our debt service for the next two fiscal years, which in turn would let us better make decisions on the General Fund Budget for the next two fiscal years. Right now, we are looking at a debt service payment of some $350 million. The comprehensive bond package would put it at $400 million this fiscal year and then back down to $350 million the next. That is important, for we have to make some serious decisions about which programs and agencies to cut if we don't create new revenue streams, which by the way the governor opposes.
So you would think that if the governor really wanted to work harmoniously with the Legislature, he would listen to that advice and call a special session with the comprehensive package and let the battle be over the budget itself, starting in January. But that is not what happened. The governor decided to unbundle the package.
Therefore, we are in gridlock mode, with Haley hoping to use his control of the Senate to break the will and spirit of the House. I cannot predict what will happen, but I do know that if the governor is successful in his true modus operandi, the average Mississippian will be without a collective voice in the process.
The system of government is designed so that no one branch would have total control of the process. It is sad that the governor is hell-bent on changing that. I personally hope, for the good of the state, that God's will, and not Haley's will, prevails.
Rep. Erik Fleming represents Hinds County, District 72, in the Mississippi House of Representatives.
Now here's an example of the stankin'-thankin' that The Ledge's (boo! hiss!) one-sided coverage of the special session brings from folk:
"It is not his place to question or to challenge our governor."
That's in a letter to The Ledge (boo! hiss!) today saying that House speaker Billy McCoy should retire because he doesn't just go along with whatever the guv wants.
Way to inform the public, Ledge. (boo! hiss!)
It's part and parcel with Zel Miller's take that the democrats campaign to get Kerry elected was an attempt to "bring down" the president. Because having a different opinion is now viewed as treason.