Not all lawmakers convinced stimulus money would help Mississippi

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - What does the state of Mississippi stand to gain if the president's stimulus package is passed in Congress?

Speaker of the House Billy McCoy assembled the media in his capitol office Thursday to release figures showing what the state can expect to receive.

"We've got neighbors that do not have a job, can not make house payments, have a very difficult time," said McCoy.

For Speaker of the House Billy McCoy, this recession has become personal. He's confident President Obama's $900 billion stimulus package will make things right in Mississippi again.

"We shouldn't put ourselves in a position not to help those people who need help the most at this time," said McCoy.

For Mississippi, the White House says the plan will save jobs and direct hundreds of millions of dollars to areas where the state is in desperate need - education, transportation and health care. And for House leaders, it can't get here soon enough.

"This is too great an opportunity for us in Mississippi to decline this type of relief," said Rep. Percy Watson of Hattiesburg.

"We're just gonna move forward with the budget we have. You know, when you hear that the check's in the mail, we can't plug it in until that check gets here," said Rep. Johnny Stringer, (D) Montrose.

Still, Governor Haley Barbour isn't convinced the federal stimulus is the way to go. He's been quoted as saying there are too many strings attached. And on the Senate side, Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant says it's too soon to comment. He wants to wait until the measure passes Congress.

"All I know is, it's a chain of help. Not a string of help, it's a chain of help. We need to grab a hold of the chain and help get us out of the mud we're in," said McCoy.

The stimulus also includes tax cuts for workers and their families, as well as unemployment benefits for part and full time workers.

There's also a provision included in the stimulus plan in case a governor doesn't accept the money. After 45 days, the state legislature can adopt a resolution to accept the money and it will be distributed.