House votes to accept all stimulus funds, bypassing the governor

By Jon Kalahar - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Governor Haley Barbour is not expected to accept all of the federal stimulus money for the state. But that's not the end of the fight for some lawmakers.

At the State Capitol, usually the importance of the issue can be determined by how many legislators want to speak. The debate on whether to accept the federal stimulus unconditionally lasted more than three hours.

"We are the poorest of the poorest of the poor in the country and some people would say we're not just poor, we're po," said Rep. Ed Blackmon, (D) Canton.

The resolution was to accept all the stimulus for the state, but most of the debate centered on unemployment benefits for part time workers. For one lawmaker, the topic is personal. Representative John Mayo's daughter works three part time jobs and goes to school at night.

"And for anyone to say that woman is lazy doesn't understand what most Mississippians are going through," said Mayo.

Republicans and Democrats argued on whether the stimulus was even good for the state.

"The package is to get us through, hopefully, two or three years of rough times. Hopefully things will be better after that," said Rep. Bobby Moak, (D) Bogue Chitto.

"Nobody in here has told me today that we can pull out the bad, put in the good, for sure. Nobody has said we can do it," said Rep. Alex Monsour, Jr., (R) Vicksburg.

And as the debate wore on, comments became more sarcastic and chippy.

"About the stimulus bill, it's a lot like bad moonshine, it's offered for free and we may get a short buzz, but the hang over is bad, bad, bad," said Rep. Brian Aldridge, (R) Tupelo.

"We've done such a good job in this state on our own. We don't need any help, we're 50th. That's pretty darn good, you know. We're ahead of Bolivia. Maybe," said Rep. Cecil Brown, (D) Jackson.

The unemployment benefits the governor has said he will turn down amount to between one and two percent of the total package Mississippi will receive.

The governors of Tennessee, South Carolina, and Louisiana have also stated they will turn down this portion of the stimulus funds.