On Friday, House and Senate leaders had agreed to go home at the end of this week without passing a budget, and to come back in mid-April. By then, they reasoned, they might know if Congress was providing the state additional funds – believed to be about $180 million – for the Medicaid program.
They also said the plan would be to finish their work in the normally allotted 90 days, but not in consecutive days.
But the resolution to change the scheduled April 4 end of the session and allow the Legislature to come back in mid-April was killed on a 5-5 vote Monday afternoon in the House Rules Committee. The five members who voted against the rules suspension resolution were Republicans.
“The pubic wants us to be out of here on time,” said Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, a Rules member who voted against the suspension resolution.
Three Democratic committee members were not there Monday. They most likely would have provided the votes necessary to pass the resolution out of the Committee and onto the floor.
Nothing would prevent the House leadership from trying to pass another suspension resolution. But it would require a two-thirds majority of the two chambers to take effect.
On Monday, House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said he is not sure if the leadership will try again to pass the resolution.
“I am going to ponder that,” McCoy said. “We were trying this because it was a suggestion of Lt. Gov. (Phil) Bryant and the Republicans in the Senate.”
Mick Bullock, a spokesman for Bryant, denied it was the lieutenant governor’s idea to take the break.
“The lieutenant governor did not propose anything,” Bullock said. “Was he open to the idea? Yes.”
Asked who came up with the plan, Bullock said, “that, I don’t know.”
Without the rules suspension, House and Senate leaders face a Wednesday night deadline to reach a budget agreement. The two chambers face a Friday night deadline to pass the agreement.