Nunnelee will forgo state budget work

JACKSON – Congressman-elect Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo said Friday he will allow Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to replace him next week when House and Senate leaders meet to develop a budget proposal for the 2011 legislative session.
Nunnelee, as chair of the state Senate Appropriations Committee, was scheduled to be in Jackson three days next week with other members of the Legislative Budget Committee.
“My life has gotten a lot busier since Tuesday,” said the Republican Nunnelee, who on that day upended incumbent Democratic 1st District U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville.
“I think it would be best to use my time to start organizing my congressional office.”
Nunnelee is scheduled to be in Washington on Nov. 14 for an orientation session.
Nunnelee said Bryant has the option to appoint someone next week to sit in with the Budget Committee. Besides working on the budget, the committee is scheduled to meet with Gov. Haley Barbour to adopt a revenue estimate for the upcoming fiscal year.
The estimate represents the amount of money the Legislature will budget during the 2011 session.
It is not clear if Bryant will replace Nunnelee next week or simply allow the Budget Committee to meet, minus one member. The lieutenant governor was unavailable for comment Friday.
Eventually, the lieutenant governor will have to fill Nunnelee’s plum Appropriations Committee chairmanship. Bryant said earlier this week through a spokesman he had not made a final decision on filling the slot.
Sen. Doug Davis, R-Hernando, currently serves as vice chair of the committee and is viewed by many as Nunnelee’s likely replacement.
Barbour will call a special election in the coming days to fill Nunnelee’s Senate post, which includes portions of Lee and Pontotoc counties.
But he cannot set an election date until Nunnelee officially resigns. Nunnelee said he will do that when the votes are officially certified, probably sometime next week.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal