The Associated Press
The Associated press
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said Wednesday he was bringing lawmakers back to the Capitol later this week for a special session on an economic development project.
“I will issue a formal call this afternoon for the Legislature to convene on Friday to consider an economic development package that will bring needed jobs to our state,” Bryant said in a news release. “This is an exciting project and a great testament to the quality of our workforce.”
Bryant gave no details about the project or what kind of incentives lawmakers will be asked to consider. During an appearance in Oxford on Monday, he said the project would be part of Mississippi’s automobile corridor. The state has two auto manufacturing plants — Nissan near Canton and Toyota near Blue Springs.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said he and other lawmakers were to receive private briefings this week about the project. In Mississippi, it’s not unusual for a governor and Mississippi Development Authority executives to keep details about job-creation projects confidential until lawmakers are called into special session.
“They want to keep a lid on them until the very last minute,” Fillingane said. “It’s not uncommon, in my experience, that we would have scant details about a project until legislation is drafted.”
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in a separate news release that job creation is a top priority.
“Gov. Bryant and our team at MDA have worked closely with us throughout this competitive process, and I anticipate the Senate will be eager to pass the proposed incentives,” Reeves said. “I fully support the project.”
Only a governor can call a special session, and he sets the agenda for what lawmakers may consider. However, the governor has little control over how long the House and Senate remain at the Capitol once he brings them back.
Bryant said Monday that the economic development special session would be separate from a special session he is expected to call later to keep Mississippi’s Medicaid program in business. During the three-month regular session that ended April 4, lawmakers did not adopt a Medicaid budget and did not pass a bill that would keep the program in business once the state’s new fiscal year begins July 1.
The Medicaid bills died amid a partisan dispute over whether to expand the program to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is allowed under the federal health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010. At 138 percent of the poverty level, a person would have an income of about $15,000. The Medicaid income cutoff in Mississippi now is about $5,500, and even under that limit, the state still does not cover many adults.
Bryant and other Republicans say Mississippi can’t afford the expansion, even with the federal government paying most of the tab. Democrats say the state should extend Medicaid to help uninsured working people and to assure a flow of federal money to support medical providers.