Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says he would like to see Mississippi’s economic settlement with BP spent in south Mississippi. He met with coastal legislators on Wednesday, and as MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, also wants to hear from coast residents.
Reeves says he will hold town hall meetings on the coast over the next three months to gather input from residents on how they'd like to see the legislature spend the $750 million in BP money it will appropriate.
Reeves says his personal view is that all of the money should stay in South Mississippi, but he says he's a realist and wants to stay away from us-versus-them arguments since the majority of the state's legislators are not from the coast.
"I do think it will be easy for us to make the argument to our friends and colleagues all over the state, that if we can grow the size of the economy in south Mississippi, we can grow the size of the economy in the entire state," he says.
The state has already received $150 million and will receive the other $600 million over the next decade and a half. State Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula says coastal legislators are also concerned about that longer-term view.
"We’re not always going to be here, the lieutenant governor is not gong to be here, the governor's not," he says. "So how do we ensure over the next 20 years that that's going to stay down here on the coast? But I think from what you heard today here, we're headed in the right direction."
The economic settlement represents about a third of the more than $2 billion in compensation the state will receive because of the 2010 spill.