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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.

Cases: 248189

Reported Deaths: 5411
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16841171
Hinds15890312
Harrison13037191
Rankin10439205
Jackson10128177
Lee8721135
Madison8071160
Jones6166108
Forrest5870117
Lauderdale5724177
Lowndes5238109
Lafayette486192
Lamar475363
Washington4734122
Bolivar3941106
Oktibbeha388179
Panola360475
Pontotoc358752
Monroe3487103
Warren337895
Union337457
Marshall336065
Neshoba3325150
Pearl River319492
Leflore2980104
Lincoln293385
Sunflower277569
Tate266659
Alcorn260651
Itawamba258858
Pike258176
Hancock253557
Prentiss242450
Scott241043
Yazoo237754
Copiah237449
Tippah236246
Simpson232367
Leake227864
Coahoma223154
Grenada215770
Covington208871
Marion206171
Adams201666
Winston198061
George197438
Wayne196130
Attala191658
Newton186542
Chickasaw181243
Tishomingo179659
Holmes167867
Jasper165134
Clay156732
Stone140218
Tallahatchie138234
Clarke136460
Calhoun133321
Smith118823
Yalobusha113834
Walthall111136
Noxubee109622
Greene108929
Montgomery108134
Carroll103721
Lawrence101217
Perry99131
Amite96425
Webster90624
Claiborne85125
Tunica84521
Jefferson Davis83825
Humphreys81524
Benton80323
Kemper75720
Quitman6758
Franklin65315
Choctaw59613
Wilkinson58125
Jefferson53019
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1586
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 417528

Reported Deaths: 6030
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61313888
Mobile29768542
Madison26637185
Tuscaloosa20580268
Montgomery18696304
Shelby18310113
Baldwin16002179
Lee12261101
Morgan12093112
Etowah11604157
Calhoun10982200
Marshall10108107
Houston8474129
Cullman7960104
Limestone790174
Elmore7723101
DeKalb764697
St. Clair7460120
Lauderdale745183
Talladega6102108
Walker5852174
Jackson574441
Blount526483
Colbert525670
Autauga510355
Coffee434256
Dale391081
Franklin363445
Chilton333565
Covington326167
Russell323810
Escambia312442
Dallas300296
Clarke278233
Chambers277869
Tallapoosa2599107
Pike245829
Marion240549
Lawrence240447
Winston223835
Bibb213047
Geneva197431
Marengo197329
Pickens195231
Hale173742
Barbour171236
Butler167958
Fayette166026
Cherokee159630
Henry151119
Monroe144417
Randolph138535
Washington136526
Clay125246
Crenshaw118044
Lamar116619
Cleburne116023
Macon113335
Lowndes108735
Wilcox101221
Bullock98128
Perry95419
Conecuh92920
Sumter88726
Greene75323
Coosa60414
Choctaw51224
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