House votes to bypass Barbour on stimulus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — After a three-hour debate that stretched from Pharisees to fried bologna, the Democratic-controlled Mississippi House voted Wednesday to bypass Republican Gov. Haley Barbour so the state can get its full share of federal stimulus money.

Only a relatively small portion of the state’s $2.8 billion from the stimulus package is in question. Barbour says he’ll reject he’ll reject about $56 million that would provide unemployment compensation to part-time workers.

Mississippi only allows payments to people willing to work full time, and Barbour said he doesn’t want to change state policies to get temporary federal money. The former Republican National Committee chairman is one of only a few governors rejecting part of the stimulus plan that marks the first major legislative accomplishment of Democratic President Barack Obama.

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All the sound in the fury in the House might signify nothing because both chambers of the Legislature must agree to circumvent the governor to accept the federal stimulus money on behalf of the state. Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant presides over the Senate and says he supports Barbour’s decision.

‘‘We understand how important that stimulus money is,’’ Bryant said in a short video sent to supporters Wednesday.