Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday said money from the BP disaster settlement should be spent on the Mississippi Coast.
In his annual State of the State address, he said the $110 million initial payment should go into a proposed new, separate savings account, which he called the Gulf Coast Restoration Reserve Fund.
“When the time comes to assemble the budget for fiscal year 2019, I still believe the funds should go where the worst damage occurred — our Gulf Coast,” he said. “However, it would be wise to reserve these funds until appropriate projects and potential leveraging of other funds can be thoroughly considered.”
Mississippi is set to receive an additional $600 million over the next 17 years.
Coast lawmakers have argued that money needs to stay on the Coast, where the damage from the oil spill was felt both environmentally and economically, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has said the money should be spent on the Coast. But South Mississippi lawmakers have predicted a fight with lawmakers from the rest of the state, who may be eager to fund various other projects.
Also during his 30-minute address, Bryant called improving Mississippi’s troubled foster-care system his “top priority,” and said he would be open to discussions of a state lottery.