Governor vs. legislature struggle continues
The Mississippi Legislature will be back in session Thursday to find a way to give relief to small businesses. That's also what Gov. Tate Reeves has been saying is a priority of spending for the CARES Act money. There is a bit of a power struggle between these two branches of state government,
Nobody is backing down from their position on spending authority of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act money.
"It is my opinion that if the legislature goes in a different route it is my opinion that not just a dollar or $100 or $100 million is going to be at risk," said Reeves Tuesday. "My view is that the entire $1.25 billion may be at risk and I'm just curious if that is a risk worth taking.""
"Nowhere in that statute does it say that the governor gets to spend those funds,” said House Speaker Philip Gunn.
The lawmakers seem to be proceeding with plans to divide the money, saying Thursday's focus will be on small business relief.
The governor read a message from his phone to wrap up Tuesday's briefing that sums up his position that he's now saying has backing from officials in D.C.
"From the head of intergovernmental affairs at the White House, it says and I quote, 'I have consulted with the U.S. Department of Treasury and based on their interpretation the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as CARES Act, Coronavirus Relief Fund for state governments is intended to be administered by the governors of each state.”
The legislature voted to put $100 million into an account for the governor to allocate for emergency expenses.
Reeves says that doesn't provide the needed flexibility and would complicate following the ever-changing guidelines from the Department of Treasury.
The letter from the speaker to the governor sent Monday argues that he is sensationalizing the issue.
"In your comments Friday you portrayed legislators as thieves and killers," Gunn wrote. "You said we 'stole the money' and people would die. Such cheap theatrics and false personal insults were beneath the dignity of your office. They were out of character for you personally."
Reeves has not yet taken any action on the bill approved by the legislature Friday.