Coast leaders lobby for BP recovery money

Coast leaders lobby for BP recovery money

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Fallout continues over the plan by some state lawmakers to use $50 million in BP recovery money to pay for statewide road improvements.

Words like "shameful" and "unfair" are being used by Coast leaders regarding a bill which has already passed the house, but faces uncertainty in the senate.

City councils and boards of supervisors along the Coast passed resolutions calling on the state legislature to spend 80 percent of BP money in the coastal counties.

"It's a great example of adding insult to injury," said Harrison County board of supervisors president Beverly Martin.

Martin says what's happening is shameful, and the money belongs where the damages occurred.

"I think all of us feel like 100 percent of that BP money should have been spent here on the Coast. But we felt like, in fairness, or trying to play fair, we would ask for the 80 percent," Martin said.

Some state lawmakers may be reluctant to raise the gas tax to fund transportation needs, and instead see the BP money as a possible alternative.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says the gas tax hasn't been adjusted in decades, and should be considered.

"And if there needs to be an adjustment, then they need to deal with the user fee.....people who are using the roads need to be paying for the maintenance of those roads, and it's done through a gas tax."

The issue has also sparked quite a reaction on social media, with several people saying that it was the Coast that suffered and the Coast that deserves the recovery money. Others say it's politics at its worst. And one man wrote that it would be like giving Katrina relief money to people living in Kansas.

"The state has lost that sales tax money. Well, who generated that sales tax money?  You give us the opportunity, we'll wind up putting more money. But you've got to invest the capital. That's all we're asking, just a fair shot," said Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich.

Mayor Gilich says the issue isn't settled just yet.

"There's a lot of brainstorming and a lot of horse trading, as I said. But we need to wind up with a few horses at the end of the day."

Although the controversial transportation spending bill passed the house, it faces a more uncertain future in the senate.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says he opposes the measure.

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