Lawmakers Haggle Over Budget

By: Davis Brister
By: Davis Brister

The Mississippi Legislature's original guess as to how much money the state would have for next year was just over $ 4 billion. Now, it's just under $4 billion.

"As we move forward with this, there's a lot of questions that haven't been answered," said Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck.

It's a stressful time. The federal government has yet to fully approve the state's $33 billion request for Katrina relief.

"It's just too many 'ifs' out there to make a decision on what we're going to do," said Rep. Johnny Stringer, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "We're going to have to wait on the federal government to come up with the money."

Patience is wearing thin for Gov. Haley Barbour. He says Louisiana's $250 billion request has left a bad taste in the mouth of Congress. Louisiana has also yet to file an official request and because of that, Barbour has asked Katrina payments be made separate, a move that has never been made.

"We just feel like the pace is such that it would make sense in this case," said Barbour.

"It would be fine with me, as long as we're first," Stringer said.

The state will have to match some Katrina payments. Leaders hope the match does not go too high.

"One percent, you get into a lot of money. Five percent, much more. Ten percent is unbearable almost," said House Speaker Billy McCoy.

Barbour also hopes for relief for those not covered by flood insurance. He says FEMA set the flood plane and federal adjusters told homeowners they didn't need flood insurance, and he feels it should share responsibility for getting residents back on their feet.


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