Lawmakers call it quits; session ends - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers call it quits; session ends

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House Speaker Philip Gunn House Speaker Philip Gunn
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves Lt. Governor Tate Reeves
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

With the bang of a gavel and a round of applause lawmakers called it quits after nearly three months of hammering out new legislation.

"We fuss and fight and disagree but at the end of the day we set aside those differences to come together and do what is right," said House Speaker Philip Gunn as he addressed the House Chamber.

For Gunn, educational measures like charter schools, a third grade literacy program and a pilot for pre-K are some of the major factors in changing the state's educational system. The issue of charter schools was the main sticking point but is now in the hands of the governor.

"I think we passed some really good ideas that will hopefully begin to turn the tide on our education front," said Gunn.

When it comes to nearly $5.7 billion budget, both Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves say it reflects conservative spending while still giving an increase to many agencies and reducing dependence on one time money.

"We were able to fund, increased funding for our priorities," said Reeves.

Even though the session is done, lawmakers are expected to go right back to the capitol for some unfinished business. The battle over Medicaid left the program unfunded for the next budget year. Each political party blames the other. Governor Phil Bryant will have to call a special session, but says he won't do it until he's confident there's some type of agreement.

"To make the taxpayers have to pay for the cost of a special session to come back here so that Democrats can kill Medicaid is not something I'm going to do," said Bryant.

The session has also been plagued with tragedy with the deaths of three representatives and two senators. Gunn told lawmakers that's when political lines blurred and parties were united.

"When we've had those difficulties, we've all been there to support one another and it just reminds me that we are a family," said Gunn.

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