Thursday, May 26, 2005

Speaker, House Leaders Killing “Momentum” With Bond Pork
Governor: “The people that gave us beef are now trying to give us pork”

(Jackson, Miss.) – Governor Haley Barbour today criticized Speaker Billy McCoy for ruling that tens of millions of new bonds for House members’ pet projects could be attached to the “Momentum Mississippi” legislation. “The Speaker’s action today is a brazen attempt to seize power that the Constitution does not give him,” said Governor Barbour.

During a special session, Mississippi’s Constitution does not allow consideration of any issues other than those the Governor puts before the Legislature: “…and the legislature, when so convened as aforesaid shall have no power to consider or act upon subjects or matters other than those designated in the proclamation of the governor by which the session is called…”. Governor Barbour’s special session call only allowed consideration of “Momentum Mississippi” bond legislation.

Momentum Mississippi is a bill designed by business and community leaders to be the long range job-creation strategy for the state. The bill includes $27 million in development bonds to help Mississippi recruit more high tech jobs to the state and encourage more existing businesses to expand.

The new bonds allowed by the Speaker add to the state’s bond debt and include dozens of taxpayer-funded projects for McCoy allies including:

• $20,000 for a bike trail at Percy Quin State Park,
• $50,000 for a playground at Clarke County State Park,
• $100,000 for a lake in Tippah County,
• $200,000 in “pre-planning” for a Civil Rights museum,
• $250,000 for beaver control,
• $250,000 for a museum in Gulfport,
• $350,000 for a museum in Centreville,
• $750,000 for a fish hatchery in Aberdeen,
• $900,000 for a lake in Alcorn County, and
• $8 million in subsidies for ethanol producers.

“By this unconstitutional effort to tie Momentum Mississippi, our state’s job creation initiative, to a stack of pork-barrel bonds for his friends, the Speaker risks killing our job creation efforts,” said Governor Barbour.

“The taxpayers have just been forced to pay off Mississippi Beef Processors, a $40 million fiasco encouraged by House leaders with no oversight, and we’re not going back to that kind of process. Unfortunately, the people that gave us beef are now trying to give us pork,” said Governor Barbour. Just last week the Legislature authorized the use $35 million of the $100 million from the state’s MCI settlement to bail out the state from the failed beef plant operation near Water Valley that House leaders spearheaded in recent years.

“The public should demand that their legislators put job creation in front of pork-barrel politics,” said Governor Barbour.

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741

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