Barbour Faces Tough Decisions - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/27/04

Barbour Faces Tough Decisions

Governor Barbour's first 100 days in office have been anything but smooth. Potential cuts of state employees and the K-through-12 budget have clouded his first year.

Some say Barbour is about to enter his two most important weeks in office.

Barbour must decide whether to sign or veto what state lawmakers have passed.

Mississippi may have the Nissan plant, but Governor Haley Barbour says it may have lost a Toyota plant because of a perceived shaky legal climate.

Barbour says Toyota higher ups told him they chose to build a plant in Texas and not in Mississippi because of the legal climate, that's why Barbour says he remains strong in his stance to bring more tort reform to the state.

"I'm committed to having tort reform this year and if that means a special session or special sessions, I don't think that's the best path, but if that's the path we have to take, that's the path we have to take."

Barbour also stands strong on "no new taxes". Recently, House Speaker Billy McCoy announced he would seek a cigarette tax increase to put workers in a handful of empty mental health centers around the state. Barbour says that's a "no go."

"A 50 percent increase in the tobacco tax has been suggested by some people. If it passes both Houses of the Legislature, which I find unlikely, I'll veto it."

Barbour says he will sign a bill that will mandate raises for nearly every county employee in Mississippi. Some who opposed that Legislation say it would require counties to up their taxes to pay for the raises.

"I don't accept the idea that the only way government can make extra payments on one thing is to raise taxes...there are lots of savings before you raise taxes."

Barbour is sticking to his budget proposal. It would cut K-12 funding by nearly 120 million dollars. He says he's confident the Legislature can find more money for our schools by the time the session ends.

The deadline for state lawmakers to pass a budget is this weekend.

By: Davis Brister

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