Coast won't get BP money, at least for now - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast won't get BP money, at least for now

The feeling in the room was almost unanimous: everyone was disappointed.  After intense lobbying for three months at the capitol, no deal was reached. (Photo source: WLOX) The feeling in the room was almost unanimous: everyone was disappointed. After intense lobbying for three months at the capitol, no deal was reached. (Photo source: WLOX)
Even though the bill is dead, negotiations could continue, which could lead to something else. John Hairston is the chairman of the GCBC. (Photo source: WLOX) Even though the bill is dead, negotiations could continue, which could lead to something else. John Hairston is the chairman of the GCBC. (Photo source: WLOX)
At times, the debate got ugly, according to Ashley Edwards with the Gulf Coast Business Council. (Photo source: WLOX) At times, the debate got ugly, according to Ashley Edwards with the Gulf Coast Business Council. (Photo source: WLOX)
Now, these business leaders can only look to the future. (Photo source: WLOX) Now, these business leaders can only look to the future. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Over the next several years, $750 million is coming to the state of Mississippi to pay for BP oil spill damages. But the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where the spill actually happened in the summer of 2010, won't be seeing any of that money anytime soon. That's because a bill that would have sent most of the money to the coast has died. 

At Tuesday's Gulf Coast Business Council (GCBC) meeting the feeling in the room was almost unanimous: everyone was disappointed. After intense lobbying for three months at the capitol, no deal was reached.

"I think we did a really good job of conveying the message to the legislature that the BP funds need to stay here on the coast, and they needed to be released. So, I'm not sure what else could be done, but I know we're going to keep trying," Richmond Vincent with Goodwill Industries said. 

At times, the debate got ugly, according to Ashley Edwards with the Gulf Coast Business Council.

"It's a difficult process in Jackson. Politics are dirty. They are nasty, and we saw politics play out in this. The sausage making is not fun to watch up there, and this bill got caught up in the sausage," Edwards said.  

Now, these business leaders can only look to the future.  

"It doesn't surprise me that ends up where it is right now," Gautier Mayor Phil Torjusen said. "There are always going to be hurdles like this, but I think we still have a chance to improve it over the next couple, three years."

Even though the bill is dead, negotiations could continue, which could lead to something else.

"I'm hopeful that they will get closer together, that the governor will call a special session and force the legislature to get to a reasonable conclusion," GCBC Chairman John Hairston said.

For months, members of the GCBC have said if legislative leaders were on board with this bill, it would have passed.  Well, the governor was on board, the Lt. Governor was on board, but what about Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn?

Adele Lyons, the Executive Director of the GCBC had an answer.

"I don't think that Phillip Gunn has been a friend to the Gulf Coast on this issue at all. So, I would have hoped he would have acted differently and been more proactive on the issue for the coast," Lyons said.  

The final offer made Monday night was 65 percent of the money for the coast, 35 percent to the rest of the state, with no promise that would actually happen. About 80 percent of those attending Tuesday's GCBC meeting said that deal was unacceptable, and the fight needs to continue.

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