Lawmakers stand by decision to strip governor’s control over CARES Act money

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been a tug of war at the state capital over who should be in control of the $1.25 billion coming in from the Federal CARES Act.

On Friday, the House and Senate voted for lawmakers to control the funds, taking that authority away from Governor Tate Reeves.

All but two senators voted for the legislature’s plan.

Lawmakers expressed that the money was allocated to the state of Mississippi, therefore they believe state officials should control where and how the money is used.

“That’s too much money for one person to be in control of, I really do believe,” said Gary Chism, District 37 State Representative.

“Me being a state legislator I feel very strongly about making sure that my community is heard,” said Cheikh Taylor, District 38 State Representative. “If the money is solely in the governor’s office, it takes away that very intimate dealing with myself and my constituents, making sure that their voices are heard.”

At this time no decision has been made detailing where the money will be allocated, but some lawmakers are making it clear how they want it spent.

Chism said he wants to see money go towards those in the restaurant industry.

“Everything is take out, that’s not making enough money for them,” said Chism. “They’ve got to have some more money, so I’d like to see some more money put into restaurants and small businesses.”

Meanwhile Taylor has a number of ideas how the money could be used.

The Democratic Party and the Legislative Black Caucus wrote the governor a letter highlighting things such as, putting money towards more testing and supplies in the African-American community, as well as hazardous pay for essential employees, to name a few.

“We need to make sure that it gets to the people who need it the most, in a timely fashion, and in the amount it needs to be done,” said Taylor. “We’ll figure out the rest as we go along, but the number one thing is to help people who need it right now.”

Legislators said they realize the importance of making sure the money goes where it’s needed most.

Chism believes the more than one billion dollars will be enough to help everyone impacted.

“We’ll have to be careful to make sure that we spend it correctly and be as transparent as we can be, and then have it audited to make sure it went to where it’s supposed to be,” said Chism.

“If these monies and resources are not formulated to address some of the acute issues that we have in our community, we’ve failed as state legislators,” said Taylor.

State leaders did give the governor $100 million for immediate coronavirus needs.

Reeves has until the end of the week to either sign the bill, veto it, or if he does nothing, it’ll go into law without the governor’s signature.

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