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Barbour proposes DBCF, SoS merger

Haley Barbour

Haley Barbour

JACKSON — The Department of Banking and Consumer Finance (DBCF) has mostly hummed along in obscurity, but it’s one of several agencies Gov. Haley Barbour has proposed for merger in his budget recommendation.

Barbour wants the DBCF to become a part of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office, in a move Barbour says will eliminate duplication of services.

Hosemann’s auditors already monitor broker dealers and financial advisors in the state. DBCF auditors monitor the state’s banks.

Under Barbour’s proposal, auditors in Hosemann’s office would be cross-trained to perform both duties.

Banking Commissioner John Allison said this morning that he and Hosemann have already twice discussed how such a merger would affect the functions of each office.

“We’re going to see what comes of it,” Allison said. He would not say if he supported Barbour’s proposal. “Both of us know it’s ultimately going to have to be decided by the Legislature. We’re just going to see how it plays out.”

“During these tough economic times, we, as elected political officials, must examine being more fiscally responsible,” Hosemann said in a statement. “I agree with the Governor that, just like our families and businesses, we must live within our means and spend only the income currently available to the state.”

Allison admitted he “taken aback” when he heard of Barbour’s recommendation the DBCF be folded into Hosemann’s office. In his budget outline, Barbour said cost savings would come from the realignment or reduction in personnel.

If the merger does go through, “hopefully it wouldn’t affect any of our (functions) in our mission statement,” Allison said. “We’re not sure how this would help (since the DBCF’s funds come from its member fees), but we’re willing to look at it and see. (Members) are questioning it. They want what’s in the best interest of the (DBCF) and the state as far as regulation goes. We’re a long way from it happening. We’re just kind of brainstorming right now, going over the what-ifs, which there are a lot of.”

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