Governor Tate Reeves held a press briefing Tuesday afternoon to give an update on the current situation of COVID-19 in Mississippi and discuss the state’s ongoing strategy to flatten the curve. Reeves also addressed his dispute with the State Legislature over control of $1.25B in federal CARES Act relief funding.
Last Friday, the legislature passed a bill to limit the Governor’s authority to divvy up the federal funding after leadership – Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann – argued that such a responsibility lies with the House and Senate.
In a joint press release, Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Hosemann stated that they are working together on a plan to help small businesses across the state that are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislation establishing the program will set parameters and allocate funds to a State agency to administer.
“The backbone of our economy in Mississippi is our small businesses, and now they need our support,” Speaker Gunn said. “The two chambers will act together to provide relief as quickly as possible this week.”
“We know Mississippi’s small businesses—our local restaurants, barbershops, hair salons, and retail shops—need help. Our legislators are best prepared to meet their needs because they represent the entirety of the State,” Lt. Gov. Hosemann said.
The Governor has continued to voice his displeasure with the legislature’s efforts, arguing that the executive branch is best suited to quickly get the CARES Act funding out to the Mississippians that need it most.
“The legislative branch is built upon the notion of a deliberative process of discussion, debate, and caution. The very foundation is the idea that it is better to do nothing and produce no harm than to act quickly and make a mistake. That’s a noble process. It does not work in distributing emergency funds in an ever-changing environment,” Governor Reeves said in a recent post.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, Governor Reeves also noted that the White House has indicated that the nation’s Governors should be the ones to decide how CARES Act funding should be spent.
In Friday’s legislation, lawmakers did vote to place $100 million into an account for the Governor to allocate for emergency expenses.
According to Gunn and Hosemann, state agencies have already started to draw down other federal relief money provided to agencies and programs under the CARES Act.
The 2020 legislative session was initially suspended in mid-March. While lawmakers will return on Thursday to discuss this plan, the session is still set to officially resume on May 18th.