House: Barbour travel hurts budget writing process

JACKSON — Top Democrats in the Mississippi House say Republican Gov. Haley Barbour is making the budget process more difficult with his frequent out-of-state travels.

But the Senate Appropriations chairman, Republican Doug Davis, says Barbour is frequently available by phone.

Legislators face a Saturday deadline to agree on details of a $5.5 billion budget for the coming year.

Barbour is preparing for a possible 2012 presidential run and met with Republican leaders Tuesday in Nevada.

Barbour sent lawmakers a letter Monday expressing concerns about the budget. He says the House and Senate would leave only $155 million in financial reserves and he believes that figure is too low.

House Appropriations Chairman Johnny Stringer, a Democrat, says lawmakers would leave $203 million in reserves. That’s more than the $185 million Barbour originally proposed.

The Associated Press

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