Sunday, August 23, 2020

Bill Crawford: Gunn out to limit Governor's spending authority

The fight between House Speaker Philip Gunn and Gov. Tate Reeves that stalled passage of the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) appropriation bill could be a harbinger of Gunn-fights to come.

At immediate issue is $41 million in Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funds for projects along the Gulf Coast. The federal government allocates to Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas a portion of the revenue generated from off-shore oil and gas leases in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

GOMESA was set up in 2006. When an increased phase of funding began, Gov. Phil Bryant in 2018 established a multi-agency advisory process to help DMR select projects to fund. Gunn now wants the legislature, through its appropriations process, to select the projects.

“Only the legislature can spend dollars,” Gunn told Mississippi Today. “We are not going to allow the governor to spend money. That is not what the law says.”

Well, not exactly. The legislature does not spend money, rather it passes appropriation bills that authorize money that can be spent by designated agencies. Those agencies actually spend the money. Many, like DMR, are under the control of the governor.

Sometimes, an appropriation bill itemizes spending for specific purposes or projects. Other times, the appropriation bill just sets an overall spending level for the agency.

Interestingly, the compromise to settle another fight between the legislature and the governor over control of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funds does both. The appropriation set aside specific amounts of spending for small business support, broadband expansion, equipping schools for distance learning, and funding the unemployment compensation fund, but also put up to $50 million in a more discretionary fund in a governor-controlled agency.

(It’s okay for the governor to spend $50 million but not $41 million?)

Back to Speaker Gunn. So far, the Senate does not agree with him on GOMESA spending, seeing this more as a process issue than a control issue. A number of senators, including Sen. Scott DeLano of Biloxi, are concerned that some projects approved by Gov. Bryant did not conform to GOMESA guidelines. DeLano told WLOX he wants to make sure the money is going to worthy projects to enhance water quality and fisheries.

Unless this is just Gunn getting back at Reeves for stifling House favored projects while he served as lieutenant governor, memorializing GOMESA guidelines in statute might be more appropriate than individual project approval.

But, that won’t work if Gunn’s goal is to take away all governor spending authority.

While there are guidelines for spending set by the legislature, state administrative procedures, and funding sources (usually the federal government as with GOMESA), the governor through executive agencies wields significant control over economic development, infrastructure, public facilities, tourism, and disaster relief spending, plus numerous tax credits. He has direct control over Appalachian Regional Authority and Delta Regional Authority spending.


This Gunn-fight with Reeves could turn into all-out war. If so, how long can Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and the Senate stay on the sidelines?

“And behold, I have smitten mine hand at thine overreaching which thou hast done” – Ezekiel 22:13 (Darby).

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson


Anonymous said...

so what happened to the 1.25 billion ? i know of no buisnesses that have received a dime ? anyone know ?

Anonymous said...

What's funny is that one of the Governor's main objections was that the legislature would take too long to spend the money.

Gunn and Delbert assured him and all of us that would not be the case.

Well, we're still waiting. Looks like the Governor was exactly right and the speaker and Lt Gov were dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

You reap what you sow, besides who needs relief everybody can go back to school and work. Let's send that money back to the Feds, is it any better than taking Medicare money, someone has to pay for it. We should be leaders for once.

Anonymous said...

Politicians fighting over who gets to funnel someone else's money to their buddies? Same old, same old....

Anonymous said...

The fight rather is about not having one man (can I still say that?) have total control of pumping out big projects to their campaign contributors. Just look back at Bryant , popped out $26 Million in contracts prior to leaving office with SSB as project managers hmmm....maybe Gunn is not so stupid .

Anonymous said...

Good for Gunn. I suspect he and Delbert have already worked their game plan out and decided both of them didn't need to put a leash on Tater each time they want to have a "discipline training session".

Anonymous said...

Funny how MS Republicans are all for fiscal responsibility and lowering the deficit and debt. Well, until they can get the feds to pay for shit. Then it's "all good'.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for the Feds there would be no Mississippi, it would have been parceled and sold to neighboring states. This would have been a good thing as long as nothing was absorbed by Alabama.

Anonymous said...

And 12:12 is sittin' at the bar at Half-Shell, still livin' at mom's.

Anonymous said...

No I am actually a taxpaying homeowner that thinks given the states dependency on the Federal government it should be annexed by any state except the idiots in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

And that claim is the totality of your contribution? Please call U-Haul.

Anonymous said...

No I'll stay, I still making money off the idiots in Alabama and I have to live nearby.

Anonymous said...

You can rent a trailer in Mobile just as easily as you can in Pearl.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS