UPDATE: Senate OKs bill giving Barbour more budget power

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour would have authority to cut any agency’s budget he chooses up to 10 percent under a bill passed Wednesday in the Mississippi Senate.

Current state law says the governor cannot cut any agency’s money by more than 5 percent until every agency has been cut by that percentage. Barbour has said the state’s declining revenue forces him to make deeper cuts, but he needs the 5 percent restriction lifted.

Supporters of the bill say the legislation will allow the governor to spare some agencies and programs from deep cuts, including corrections and those under court order, while targeting others for reductions beyond 5 percent.

Opponents say the bill gives the governor the authority that’s constitutionally appointed to the Legislature, which writes the state’s budget.