Thursday, June 2, 2005

Governor Pays Off Beef Plant, Calls “Momentum” Special Session
Governor: “Support progress, not pork.”

(Jackson, Miss.) – Governor Haley Barbour today signed a bill that pays off the State’s debt for the now-defunct Mississippi Beef Processors plant, and called lawmakers back for a third special session on June 28 to pass Momentum Mississippi, a plan to update Mississippi’s economic development programs.

“Today I am signing legislation to pay the cost of a bad attempt at economic development. Mississippi Beef Processors, a creation of a legislative process led by the current House leadership, is costing the taxpayers $40 million,” said Governor Barbour. “The last administration got snookered on Mississippi Beef Processors, and the Legislature ended up buying a pig in a poke. We’re not going to have that kind of good ole boy logrolling any more. We’re not going to trade beef for pork.”

Momentum Mississippi is a bill designed by business and community leaders to be the long-term, 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 Senate overwhelmingly passed a Momentum Mississippi bill 45-4 during the Regular Session and 44-3 within the first few hours of the Special Session. Conversely, the House attached tens of millions of dollars of new “pork-barrel” bonds to the Momentum bill.

“This afternoon I will issue the Call for a third Special Session of the Legislature for the sole purpose of considering Momentum Mississippi economic development legislation. This legislation is the exact opposite of the Mississippi Beef Processors fiasco,” said Governor Barbour. “The changes proposed to the state’s economic development incentives are the product of work done by more than a 1,000 volunteers - business, education, community and political leaders - that began in the Blueprint Mississippi project before I was even Governor.”

Although 2004 saw tremendous improvement in Mississippi’s economy, with the highest number of net new jobs created since 1999 and the largest increase in personal income since 1998, the state still lags behind the rest of the South. The growth deficit compared to other southern states means lower pay for Mississippi families and less revenue to pay for state programs such as education, law enforcement and health care. The Momentum Mississippi legislation is focused on changes that will end the growth deficit and make us more competitive. It will create more, higher-paying jobs in our state.

“I call on every Legislator to support progress, not pork in the area of economic development - to put job creation and economic growth for our state in front of pork barrel politics,” said Governor Barbour.

The Governor also said that the Special Session should not last long. “This legislation is straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few hours to debate. If Momentum Mississippi is passed, I am willing to expand the Special Session if leaders in both Houses request it,” he added.

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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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