Black Lawmakers Refuse Mansion Dinner After Hospital Veto
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Several black legislators refused dinner at the Governor’s Mansion after Gov. Ray Mabus vetoed funding bills for charity hospitals.
″I will not meet with the governor for dinner. It would be a hypocritical act to look like I was pleased with him,″ said Rep. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale. ″The charity hospitals should be expanded rather than retrenched.″
″I can’t dine in the mansion after he vetoes the bill,″ said Rep. Barney Schoby of Natchez. Mabus’ decision to veto the bill for charity hospital funding on Tuesday ″was a mistake with me,″ he said.
The 22 members of the Black Caucus received invitations to the Tuesday night dinner. About half the members attended, said Rep. Hillman Frazier of Jackson, a caucus member who dined with the governor. Some who didn’t attend had other engagements, Frazier said.
″I accepted the invitation to go. The governor’s veto has no bearing on it,″ said Frazier, a Black Caucus member who supported Mabus’ stand on charity hospitals. ″There’s more than one issue this session. Charity hospitals are not the only issue, although it was very emotional.″
Mabus spokesman Kevin Vandenbroek said the dinner was not devised to soothe hurt feelings over the charity hospital issue or minimize potential political damage. ″It was in the works for a couple of weeks,″ Vandenbroek said.
Mississippi is one of two states that has state-supported charity hospitals. The governor wants the money for the hospitals to be used to expand Medicaid, saying that more people could be served. With the veto, the hospitals are slated to close July 1.