Mississippi Budget Latest

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Mississippi lawmakers started a special session today (Sunday) and playing a frantic game of beat the clock.
They're trying to pass a nearly $6 billion state budget before the new fiscal year begins on Wednesday.
The House and Senate are working quickly on dozens of bills to fund most state agencies -- and Republican Governor Haley Barbour believes most of the bills will be signed into law on time.
But, negotiators still have not agreed on how to fund Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the needy. It's a big program that serves about one in every four residents.
Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood says if there's still no Medicaid plan by Wednesday, a court order would be needed to keep the program in business. Barbour believes he run it by executive order.
The governor wants lawmakers to put a $90 million annual tax on hospitals to help pay for Medicaid. The Mississippi Hospital Association has lobbied hard against the plan, saying it would hurt facilities' finances. Health advocates worry the hospitals would pass price increases along to patients.

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