Gov. Tate Reeves was frugal with his veto stamp this year, axing one bill and line-item vetoing four projects across the state the Legislature had funded.

Reeves gave no explanation for why he vetoed the specific projects, but one is in an area represented by a top lawmaker who challenged his veto authority in court last year.

Last year, by contrast, Reeves vetoed the bulk of the state’s public education budget, major criminal justice reforms and some of the Legislature’s spending of COVID-19 federal relief money.

His line-item vetoes of COVID-19 spending last year prompted House Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro-tem Jason White to sue their fellow Republican Reeves saying he overstepped his line-item veto authority. The state Supreme Court sided with Reeves in the case, a ruling that appeared to weaken legislative authority and strengthen gubernatorial authority.

Reeves, before his Thursday, midnight deadline to do so, line-item vetoed a $4.5 million project to four-lane Mississippi 12 from Durant to Kosciusko. The measure was included in the Mississippi Department of Transportation budget, House Bill 1413.

White, R-West, whose district includes part of the vetoed highway project, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

READ MORE: Gov. Reeves signs parole eligibility bill, after last year’s veto

Reeves also line-item vetoed three smaller projects included in the Capital Expense Fund in Senate Bill 2948. These are:

  • $500,000 for the city of Greenville for downtown park improvements
  • $50,000 for the city of Scooba for improvements to sports and athletic fields
  • $50,000 for the town of Mathison for improvements to its baseball park and facilities.

These projects were among dozens included in the $97-million Capitol Expense Fund list, including similar parks and recreation projects in other cities, such as $600,000 for phase two of a sportsplex in Sumrall. $50,000 to improve Veterans Park in Ashland and $75,000 for park improvements in the town of Lula.

Reeves in his veto messages gave no reason why he singled out the projects for his line item vetoes. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

READ MORE: Reeves vetoes education budget, criminal justice reforms, COVID-19 spending

Reeves also vetoed Senate Bill 2624, a bill that revamped state Real Estate Commission rules and created a pilot project for administrative hearing officers appointed by the attorney general to hear and decide cases of agents accused of violation of commission regulations.

In his veto message, Reeves said that while he felt the bill did make some “positive changes to current law,” he doesn’t believe final commission authority for violation hearings should be handed off to administrative officers.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.