/Rank-and-file legislators have no influence in budgeting process because they gave it away

Rank-and-file legislators have no influence in budgeting process because they gave it away

The budget conference process is about to begin. While legislators have a record-breaking revenue surplus of over $2 billion, most members will not be able to control how the funds are spent. Conferencing is when three members of each chamber meet — Speaker Philip Gunn, Senate members named by the Lt. Governor and House members. Delbert Hosemann — Meet to resolve differences in legislation. These meetings are usually held behind closed doors. Once agreement has been reached, rank-and file members of each chamber have the option of: During conference, rank-and -file members can not offer amendments to the proposed proposals as they could earlier in the session. To keep the legislative train moving forward, legislators are under immense pressure to approve the compromise. The session will end on April 3. Therefore, sending back a bill for further negotiations could delay the session’s end. At least rank-and-file legislators have an earlier chance to influence the general proposals. They can offer amendments to bills in committee as well as on the floor of the House or Senate. However, rank-and-file legislators do not have the freedom to propose amendments to budget bills, which are bills that provide funding for state agencies and services. They have little power to influence the budgeting process. When Republicans took control of both chambers in the Legislature, 2012 was the first time that Republicans had taken over the Legislature since 1800s, members gave up this right. The legislative leaders, Speaker Gunn and the then-Lt. Governor, were present at that moment. Tate Reeves was the Senate’s president and is currently governor. He pushed for rules changes that effectively thwarted rank-and-file members’ influence over budgeting, which may be the most important duty that legislators have. Legislators approved a rules change in 2012 that gave the two presiding officials more power, at least over budgeting, than any other presiding officer in state history. Members cannot propose amendments to appropriations bills without citing from which agency they received the money. To address the decades-old backlog in performing autopsies, a member must state from which agency they are seeking additional funding. To make it more difficult, the money must come from a budget bill currently before the chamber. It is important that you understand that each chamber will take up and pass half the more than 100 bills funding state commissions and agencies. Then, they exchange bills with the other. The House will forward its appropriations bills and vice versa to the Senate. A member of the House may request additional funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program to help local school districts. However, he or she cannot do this if the Transportation bill is being considered by the Senate. This year’s rules change is even more absurd because the state has a record revenue surplus of approximately one-third of its entire $6 billion state support budget. Rules governing the options available to rank-and-file members in influencing budget processes prevent them from offering an amendment to use any of the huge surplus funds. This includes money for education, health care, or law enforcement. The only people who have the authority to spend the surplus funds are the leaders, which includes the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairmen and the presiding officers. Yes, rank-and-file could send appropriations bills back at conference to continue negotiations. They could also send a message to say they want more surplus funds to be used for education or another agency. Members have generally been reluctant to take bold action due to the short time between the vote on the compromise proposals and the end of the session. As a result, the session is now in a phase where the majority of rank-and-file members sit around waiting for the leadership to give them their approval. The 2012 restrictive rules changes were approved by the members. They have not attempted to alter the rule in recent times to regain their power.