Windpool funds face possible ax

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Some legislators will tell you times are scary. With next year's budget still unconfirmed and the new fiscal year looming in the distance, State Senator Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) said it's time for state lawmakers to make some hard decisions in Jackson.

"This is getting to the point where its drastic times, taking drastic measures," said Watson.  "It's getting ugly."

Lawmakers are still grappling over how to deal with the multi-million dollar decrease in state revenue since last year. Pascagoula Representative Brandon Jones (D) says the $20 million lawmakers thought was headed for for windpool insurance may hang in the balance.

"The House and the Senate overwhelmingly passed $20 million that would be used for windpool," said Jones. "Reinsurance, right here on the Gulf Coast. What we've been told in the last week is that the Senate no longer has room for that in their budget."

These local legislators have a lot of different ideas of how to handle the harrowing budget limitations. In a lot of cases, they strongly disagree on what should be spared. But one thing they said they agree on is windpool insurance. They both said windpool funding has got to remain a top priority here in the state of Mississippi.

"When you're talking down here on the Coast, the number one hurdle is insurance," Watson said. "So maybe we're going to have to move some money around somewhere else, but that money needs to stay here."

Jones said he's surprised to hear anyone would consider throwing out the extra insurance funds.

"This has really shocked me," Jones said. "This was one of the no-brainer decisions that we had to make this time around in dealing with our state budget."

Both men said they will fight to keep windpool funds off the chopping block.

"You're going to see a very strong band of brothers from the Coast," Watson said. "Legislators to get up there and say 'No.' Pull from somewhere else.'"

Both legislators said they think it's critical to push the windpool cause in Jackson in coming weeks.

"Hopefully we will have the time to make enough noise on this issue to keep that from happening," Jones said.

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