Barbour says no special session

By Kevin Wheeler - bio | email | Twitter

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - The state's fiscal year begins July 1, and what is uncertain at this point is if there will be a budget in place.

Governor Haley Barbour answered reporters' questions Tuesday in a teleconference saying he wasn't ready to call a special session.

"We've already been through two months of the legislature, being in Jackson sitting around with nothing to do, and I find that a poisonous atmosphere," said Barbour.

House and Senate negotiators have been at odds over how to fund Medicaid. They came up with a $60 million hospital tax to fund the program, and Barbour said the tax is a compromise he can work with, but  the plan would not let him make cuts in the program if he needs to.

"The only way to make sure the Medicaid budget is balanced, because it is an entitlement, is for the governor to have reductions in spending as we go through the year if we see there's going to be a deficit in Medicaid," Barbour said.

Barbour added the Mississippi Hospital Association is trying to keep hospitals from being taxed, and he said it has had too much influence on the house leadership.

"For some reason particularly the Medicaid committee in the House has just insisted that this law is not going to be enforced because the hospital association wants a blank check," said Barbour.

The governor also said he is confident a budget will be worked out before July 1. If one is not worked out, he said critical state services should continue.

©2009 WDAM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.