Lawmakers Facing Midnight Deadline for Budget


A three-judge panel declared its preference for a Democrat-preferred redistricting map late last week, potentially lining up the Mississippi Republican Party as antagonists at a May 10 hearing in Jackson.

With the deadline for reaching a consensus creeping closer by the day, the Mississippi Legislature has until midnight tonight to agree on the state's 2010 budget before Gov. Haley Barbour forces them into a special session. Although lawmakers have stretched the time limits for passing a budget before, this year's session is in record-breaking territory.

The legislative budget committee, which consists of three members of both houses and a handful of others, including Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, was to have worked through the weekend to have a budget for the full Legislature to vote on today. They met only three-and-a-half hours on Saturday, however, according to WAPT.

One of the main points of contention is funding for the state's portion of Medicaid, the program that provides health care for the poor. Gov. Barbour, backed by the Republican-controlled Senate, is pushing for a new tax on the state's hospitals. The Democratically controlled house sides with the Mississippi Hospital Association, which says 43 percent of hospitals in the state are already operating at zero profit margins or deficits, and that the tax could put many of them out of business.


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