JACKSON, MISS– The battle over the $2.2 billion dollar BP Oil Spill settlement has continued, with an answer on how to spend the funds pending until the 2017 legislative session.
Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden said that while the legislators are not in session, the question of how to properly utilize the settlement money is something lawmakers will have to answer.
“There’s not a lot to say about the BP oil spill money at this point,” said Snowden. “There are various options being discussed… it is the legislature’s decision.”
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves had held one gathering in a series of town hall meetings on the Coast with the public to discuss options on how to spend the settlement. While suggestions ranged from investing in infrastructure to rebuilding historic districts along the Coast, one theme remained–keep the money on the Coast.
Meanwhile, Snowden said comments have come in from municipalities and businesses statewide that claimed the Coast was “carried” through the hard times after the BP Oil Spill, and therefore there’s a statewide need for the money.
“We’re going to look through this thing and sift through it,” said Snowden. “And we’ll come down where we need to come down.”
Snowden said that Mississippi is not the only state to have this problem. Alabama had a settlement as well, and it was up to the lawmakers on how to spend it.
“They went through this same thing, with very high emotions,” said Snowden. “And they had a special session that turned out, and they came out with an amicable compromise.”
Alabama legislators gathered for that special session in early September and passed the “compromise legislation” dictating the money be spent on state debt repayments, Medicaid, and infrastructure in Baldwin and Mobile counties, located in the southernmost portions of the state, AL.com reported.
Snowden did not indicate that a special session is in the future regarding the oil spill, but said controversy over the funding will not be a battle when legislators do return to the Capitol in January.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Snowden, of rumors of a pending controversy. “But I think that’s overstated.”