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: 95310

Reported Deaths: 2874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7032159
DeSoto547759
Harrison380573
Jackson343069
Madison323386
Rankin322577
Lee265468
Jones245279
Forrest242571
Washington219772
Lafayette213739
Lauderdale2038125
Bolivar181366
Oktibbeha176350
Lamar165534
Neshoba1556104
Panola145527
Lowndes144958
Sunflower143946
Warren138450
Leflore138381
Pontotoc124916
Pike122450
Monroe120768
Scott117126
Copiah116633
Coahoma114428
Holmes109558
Marshall108516
Lincoln107553
Grenada107236
Yazoo104630
Simpson101844
Union98824
Tate96237
Leake94638
Adams92637
Wayne88821
Pearl River87053
Marion84535
Prentiss83417
Covington81322
Itawamba78721
Alcorn78611
Newton76723
Tallahatchie76421
George75913
Winston73519
Chickasaw66724
Tishomingo66738
Tippah65417
Attala65325
Walthall59525
Clay58518
Hancock57221
Clarke57045
Jasper56215
Noxubee54616
Smith52914
Calhoun50812
Tunica48213
Claiborne45916
Montgomery45820
Lawrence42912
Yalobusha42314
Perry41618
Humphreys37515
Quitman3735
Stone36512
Greene35917
Jefferson Davis33511
Webster33313
Amite32110
Carroll31412
Wilkinson30218
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2232
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19306349
Mobile13233291
Montgomery8748177
Madison770978
Tuscaloosa7418116
Lee579261
Shelby578750
Baldwin514149
Marshall389244
Etowah340247
Calhoun340140
Morgan323926
Houston276423
Elmore259647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair226337
Walker225383
Talladega210628
Limestone203319
Cullman186818
Dallas175926
Franklin175229
Russell17322
Autauga171525
Lauderdale167333
Colbert162926
Blount158015
Escambia157725
Jackson154011
Chilton152431
Dale134644
Covington133427
Coffee12988
Pike11799
Chambers114442
Tallapoosa113885
Clarke107017
Marion95429
Butler91139
Barbour8517
Winston71812
Marengo70519
Lowndes65227
Pickens64514
Bibb63810
Randolph62713
Hale61928
Lawrence60522
Bullock59714
Geneva5864
Cherokee58315
Monroe5808
Clay5547
Washington55113
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52732
Henry4835
Macon47920
Fayette4358
Sumter43219
Lamar3572
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3356
Greene30315
Coosa1673
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