House agrees to appropriate more money for governor’s office, mansion

JACKSON — The Mississippi House agreed yesterday to spend more money for the governor’s office and mansion during the current budget year.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s staff said last month that his predecessor, fellow Republican Haley Barbour, spent more than half the governor’s budget before leaving office in January, just over midway through the budget year.

The bill that passed yesterday would provide an additional $474,531 to the governor’s office and Governor’s Mansion.

That includes $355,531 to pay for the expenses of the governor’s office through June 30. The remaining $119,000 would be used over the 18 months to replace mansion labor that had been provided for free by an inmate trusty program that Bryant canceled. His action came amid an uproar over Barbour’s pardoning of inmate trusties, including convicted killers.

The inmate trusty program had been used by Mississippi governors for many years. The inmates cooked, cleaned and did other jobs.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said it’s typical for a governor to overspend the office budget during the final months of an administration.

“We really need to put aside money in an ex-governor’s fund so the governor’s office doesn’t run a deficit,” Frierson said.

Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, who chairs the House Corrections Committee, said he thought Bryant could have avoided spending the $119,000 on labor costs.

“I think he could still use nonviolent offenders and save the state money, but he chooses not to,” Flaggs said. “But that’s his prerogative.”

The bill goes to the Senate.

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