Gov. Tate Reeves’ partial veto of a Mississippi Legislature’s spending bill for fiscal year 2021 has been ruled unconstitutional.
Hinds County Chancellor Judge Tiffany Grove issued her ruling Monday in a case brought by House Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White in August.
With this ruling, the bill, HR 1782, becomes law as it was sent to the governor July 2.
The bill allocates nearly $130 million from federal COVID-19 relief through the CARES Act to several Mississippi agencies including the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and the state departments of health and mental health.
Reeves vetoed $8 million of the appropriations through line-item vetoes.
The court ruled that such vetoes are not within the governor’s purview. “The process for how a bill becomes law in Mississippi is well-established. Once a bill is passed by the Legislature, it is presented to the Governor for approval. Miss. Const. §72. The Governor then has three options: approve the bill by his signature, return the bill to the Legislature for reconsideration, or do nothing,” the ruling states.
“Neither of the provisions vetoed by the Governor in Section 4 are an entire, separate and distinct appropriation and neither is subject to the partial veto authority granted to a governor under Section 73, Article 4 of the 1890 Constitution…” the analyses of the court stated.
Reeves filed a notice of appeal in the Hinds County Chancery Court Monday afternoon, appealing the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.