We’ll never get tired of saying this.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred off the Coast. When oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, the damage was widespread. All the Gulf states took a hit. But it never reached Jackson.
So while lawmakers might believe the budget they passed for the fiscal year that began Friday is a disaster, the remainder of the $150 million the state received Friday from BP should not be used to repair that damage. More than $40 million has already been earmarked for the Coast.
The remaining money should be spent on the economic damage here, where the oil spill shut down tourism and fishing for months. It could be used to further restore confidence in the quality of our seafood, for example.
But ever since the settlement was announced, we have heard rumblings from upstate, that perhaps because the Coast didn’t send as much tax money north, the rest of the state suffered, too.
Nice try. But.
For all we know, the disaster isn’t over. Oil remains in the Gulf. We don’t know what the long-range effect of the dispersants used to battle the undersea oil gusher will be.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Legislature took money intended for the Coast and used it elsewhere in the state. Some of the casino tax money collected on and intended for Coast roads was shipped north never to be seen again. All roads eventually lead to a casino, they said.
Our Coast lawmakers may be outnumbered, but they are solidly together, both Republicans and Democrats, on this issue. Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves have said repeatedly they believe the money belongs on the Coast.
Yet the rumors of an impending raid on the BP money persist.
“After years of litigation and work to identify the economic damage caused by this catastrophe, we reached an agreement that would help to make our coastal communities whole again,” Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday. “However, I am deeply concerned that the state’s legislative leaders may use this payment to try to cover up their self-created budget hole.”
We are, too.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.