State Politics

Jackson hears Coast pleas to spend BP money in South Mississippi

A Blue Heron stands among marsh grass along the Pascagoula River in October 2010, a few months after the oil spill. The latest round of funding from the RESTORE Act provides $1 million to supports development of USM’s combined degree program in ocean engineering and business, part of state’s Blue Economy initiative.
A Blue Heron stands among marsh grass along the Pascagoula River in October 2010, a few months after the oil spill. The latest round of funding from the RESTORE Act provides $1 million to supports development of USM’s combined degree program in ocean engineering and business, part of state’s Blue Economy initiative. Sun Herald File

BP settlement dollars are one step closer to coming to South Mississippi.

Senate Bill 2176 was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday. It currently directs 100 percent of the $750 million the state will receive from BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster to a separate fund, and the bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Introduced by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, the bill creates a Gulf Coast Restoration Reserve Fund to keep the money separate from general tax dollars. The bill was co-authored by Sens. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi; Mike Seymour, R-Vancleave; Philip Moran, R-Kiln; and Joel Carter Jr., R-Biloxi.

“I continue to believe the vast majority of the BP settlement should be spent on the three coastal counties where the disaster occurred,” Reeves said. “Through town hall meetings and other events on the Gulf Coast, I have heard from residents and community leaders about the impact the disaster had on South Mississippi. It is important to separate these dollars so they can be spent on projects that create jobs to spur the local economy on the Coast, which will ultimately benefit the entire state of Mississippi.”

A contingency of Coast elected officials and business leaders were in Jackson at the Coast Legislative Reception last week, working together as “One Coast” to tell state legislators how important the funds are to restore the Coast economy that they say has struggled since the 2010 oil spill.

Sun Herald Political Editor Paul Hampton contributed to this article.

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