By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, has proposed to Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, that legislative leaders not hold budget hearings this month and not develop a budget recommendation for the 2012 session.
Bryant is slated to chair the Legislative Budget Committee hearings this year. The lieutenant governor and speaker alternate yearly as chair of the 14-member Budget Committee.
McCoy sent a letter to Bryant on Wednesday afternoon saying he opposed canceling the hearings.
In his correspondence to McCoy, Bryant said since at least four of the current members of the Budget Committee will not return for the 2012 session, “I question the wisdom of having the present members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee dictate the terms of the … budget to the newly elected Legislature that will assemble in January.”
Bryant said he wanted to know McCoy’s views, “but at this time, I believe that the people of Mississippi would be better served if the…Committee did not meet for two weeks this fall” and saved those funds.
McCoy said in his answer that state law requires the committee to meet.
McCoy said, “This situation of new legislative leaders is nothing different than we face every four years. All of us are still elected officials and are expected to fulfill our obligations to our citizens for the entire four-year term.”
He said to not meet “would appear to be abdicating our responsibility and breaking the law that we are sworn to uphold.”
Bryant, who is running for governor, along with Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport; Senate Appropriations Chair Doug Davis, R-Hernando; and McCoy, will not be back for the new term, beginning in January.
Mick Bullock, a spokesman for Bryant, said “the lieutenant governor hopes to meet with Speaker McCoy soon and discuss this further.”
The Budget Committee hearings are slated to start Sept. 19. Under Bryant’s proposal, the Budget Committee still would meet in November to develop a revenue estimate to be used by the new Legislature in developing a budget.