Lawmakers battle the clock - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers battle the clock

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

With the clock ticking down on the 2011 legislative session and a budget still not in place, lawmakers are working against time.

"We're all ready to get home," said Senator Billy Hewes.

Going home could take a little longer if a budget is not in place by the April 2 deadline.

"We're trying to live within our means and try not to over budget or over spend," said Hewes.

Hewes says currently the house and senate are about $30 million apart on the budget. A good sign, he says, since the division was once at $100 million.

"We're getting closer, it's just that we're about to run out of time," said Hewes.

Meanwhile Governor Haley Barbour is asking for more cuts to education and mental health which many house democrats are dead set against.

"It's just raw academic numbers with him. It's never any heart and soul, spirit, mind and body and that's just his position," said Representative Steve Holland. "God bless him, he's been governor and I like the man but I can't stand his politics."

House democrats already tried to just extend the current session once, but was voted down by house republicans. The senate hasn't taken up any action for an extension.

If the session is extended, it's affordable since some of the previous days were already taken out, but if a special session is called, that's where the cost will come in. Every day of a special session would cost taxpayers anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000. That's money lawmakers don't want to spend.

"I think it's a sad state of affair for the people of the state of Mississippi. There's no need to go into a special session," said Representative Wilbert Jones.

"I've seen us here before. The stalemates, the impasses and I think we're going to be able to get the business of the people done and taken care of," said Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Many lawmakers say whatever happens, getting the work done is what's important but how long it takes doesn't need to drag out.

"We've got to continue negotiations. We've got to get ourselves together. We've got to meet somewhere in that middle ground," said Holland.

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