Lawmakers again fail to make oil spill money spending plan

(Craig Ford)

Mississippi lawmakers still can't agree on how to spend part of the state's compensation from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 12:55 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2018 2:55 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers still can't agree on how to spend part of the state's compensation from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

House and Senate negotiators missed a Monday night deadline to create a plan for distributing what will eventually amount to more than $700 million in economic damages from oil company BP PLC.

The failure likely means already-collected money, which can't be spent without legislative appropriation, will stay banked in the state's rainy day fund for another year.

Rep. Scott DeLano of Biloxi and Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula, both Republicans, said Tuesday that negotiators came close to an agreement on House Bill 1185 , which would have designated 75 to 80 percent of the money to projects on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

Although Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and senators had previously taken the position that all the money should go to coastal counties, a number of non-coastal House members had voiced support for spending the money on roads and bridges statewide.

"We were both trying to get something for the coast and a deal that could pass the House," Wiggins said.

Gulf Coast House members had originally proposed an 80 percent share for the coast, and the Senate had agreed, but House members later lowered their target to 75 percent. The real sticking point, though, was when House negotiators proposed that some of the money for areas away from the coast be designated for specific road projects that failed in legislation earlier this year.

"That blew it up," Wiggins said. Senators objected, wanting instead to make spending decisions next year, he said.

DeLano held out hope that an agreement could still be ironed out and Gov. Phil Bryant would call a special session as the regular session nears its close. Senators, though, regard that prospect as unlikely. Lawmakers could adjourn as early as Wednesday.

Mississippi is being paid the money over a series of years in return for lost tax revenue after a 2005 explosion unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Some money has already been received and spent.

House members had proposed to put most money into a fund that would be controlled by appointed trustees, not lawmakers. However, Wiggins said, negotiators agreed during talks that lawmakers would appropriate the money, advised by an outside board that would examine projects.

Mississippi lawmakers once pledged to save a $4 billion tobacco settlement over 25 years. But under budget pressures during the Great Recession, lawmakers drained the tobacco trust fund and now roll yearly payments into the state budget.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32888

Reported Deaths: 1188
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds264246
DeSoto176718
Madison135536
Jones115949
Neshoba101673
Harrison100312
Rankin99915
Lauderdale93781
Forrest92743
Scott78515
Jackson70417
Copiah62715
Washington62610
Leake59820
Lee57521
Holmes57041
Oktibbeha55728
Wayne55116
Warren54020
Yazoo5336
Grenada5227
Lowndes51513
Leflore50756
Lamar5007
Lincoln49234
Pike46617
Sunflower4368
Monroe43135
Lafayette4194
Covington3965
Panola3926
Bolivar37018
Attala36523
Simpson3603
Newton35210
Adams33218
Tate31912
Pontotoc3166
Marion30812
Chickasaw29119
Claiborne28910
Winston28210
Noxubee2738
Pearl River26932
Jasper2666
Marshall2643
Clay25111
Smith23412
Union23311
Coahoma2136
Clarke21125
Walthall2087
Lawrence1892
Yalobusha1838
Kemper17914
Carroll17111
Humphreys1569
Tallahatchie1564
Montgomery1432
Calhoun1425
Tippah14211
Itawamba1408
Hancock13413
Webster12811
Tunica1153
Jefferson1143
Jefferson Davis1144
Prentiss1113
Greene1089
Amite1043
George943
Wilkinson949
Tishomingo911
Quitman891
Alcorn762
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone722
Franklin472
Benton420
Sharkey400
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 48588

Reported Deaths: 1042
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
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