Speaker says retirees will be hurt without budget

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – House Speaker Billy Mccoy, D-Riezi, pointed out Thursday that checks for retirees could be delayed if there is no budget accord.
McCoy pointed out that if a budget agreement is not reached before the new fiscal year begins July 1, personnel furloughs could result in the delay in retirement checks being sent out to both former state employees and teachers.
“We’re in uncharted waters. Who knows?” McCoy said in a news release sent out Thursday as his House negotiators and their Senate counterparts met off and on, trying to reach an agreement.
Even if an agreement in reached in the next couple of days, it still would be difficult get that compromise passed by the full Legislature in a yet-to-be-called special session and on the desk of Gov. Haley Barbour for his signature before July 1.
“I don’t know what the hard deadline is to get a budget passed before July 1, but we are getting close,” conceded Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo.
The primary disagreements continue to center on how much – if any – to increase the tax on hospitals and whether to carry over at least $60 million to be used by the 2010 Legislature.
The Senate leadership and Barbour have demanded the money be carried forward because they say that budget year, and the next, are expected to be even more difficult than the current one.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, has agreed to carry money forward, but he wants it to come from lawsuit settlement funds recouped by Attorney General Jm Hood.
Nunnelee and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant have resisted, saying they did not want to carry forward one-time money.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.