Coast Lawmakers Consider Another Bond Package To Help Companies

Just days after state lawmakers pushed through a $68 million incentives package for Nissan in June, the automotive company and the governor announced plans to expand the plant in Canton.

Governor Ronnie Musgrove says "With so many people getting laid off, the fact that we're gonna bring in 1,300 jobs is great news. I believe that is a significant impact of the $500 million expansion of Nissan".

Now, lawmakers must decide whether to use tax dollars again to help another company, Howard Industries, expand its computer and transformer manufacturing operations near Ellisville. The governor says the incentive package will allow the Jones County company to expand, and add up to 2,300 jobs.

Senator Billy Hewes agrees it's a good investment.  Hewes says "Given that they are from Mississippi, they originated here, they want to stay here, the fact that they're putting $80 million of their own monies, and we've done like type financing arrangements and incentives for Nissan and others around the state, it makes sense".

Representative Les Barnett says he's for economic development, but he's worried about other agencies, like Medicaid, that need help from the state too. Barnett says "I'm afraid we might open a Pandora's Box. Our influx of tax money, the tax base is not what we'd like for it to be, and so where do we draw the line? Is every time someone comes in, we'd give them incentives until we're dead broke"?

However, Senator Hewes says the bond money would not impact the general fund. Hewes says "When we're obligating these amount of money, it's not directly coming out of Medicaid. It's not directly coming out of these other areas where the needs are critical as well".

As they gear up for the special session, Hewes says he would support an incentives package for Howard Industries. Barnett is still undecided.

When lawmakers convene on Tuesday, they will also address the Medicaid budget and private prison contracts.