Miss. could get more than $1B from stimulus plan

Published 1:19 am Friday, January 30, 2009

Mississippi could receive more than $1 billion in bailout aid if Congress approves the national economic stimulus proposal.

For Mississippi, the plan includes $637 million in state budget aid; $353 million for highways and bridges and $249 million for school modernization, according to information from congressional staff.

The Democrat-controlled U.S. House approved the $819 billion stimulus bill, which includes tax breaks and $550 billion in spending, on Wednesday. A separate Senate bill is expected to be considered later. Congressional leaders have said they plan to send a final compromise version of the stimulus package to President Barack Obama by mid-February.

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Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined to comment about the package.

“This particular legislation is still a moving a target. It’s not something we’re going to comment on until we get something more definitive,” Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, also said he didn’t know enough about the proposal to comment.

But House Appropriations Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, said approval of a national bailout cannot come quickly enough.

“It’s coming at a good time because we’re fixing to have to cut budgets,” Stringer said.

Barbour has cut state agencies budgets twice in the last six months. He said the state’s revenue collections could be up to $310 million below estimates by the time the fiscal year ends June 30.

The stimulus plan would also provide the state with $52 million for wastewater treatment and sewers; $20 million for mass transit; $16 million for Head Start; $13 million for education technology grants and $7 million for low-income energy assistance.