Lawmakers Back in Jackson

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Gov. Haley Barbour's proposal for economic development bonds to attract new business and jobs to Mississippi reached at least the halfway point Monday.

The Mississippi Senate easily passed the $109 million package to try to stimulate job creation in various parts of Mississippi, including Lauderdale and Kemper Counties.

But the House of Representatives was a different story. Sen. Gloria Williamson of Philadelphia supported it, but warned of the opposition in that body.

"I think a lot of members of the House don't really want to do this. That's because they don't think we have the money to do it," Williamson said. "Now my deal is, I believe we made a commitment to Northrup Grumann and to Viking Range and we made that commitment some time ago. The rest of the bond things they want to tack on, I don't know about, but I do think we owe it to those people."

Rep. Charles Young of Meridian said he believed the $10 million in the bill for the proposed Timtek Corporation startup in Meridian will pass, sooner or later.

"I think that Timtek is in one of the best positions in the Legislature now. Now whether or not or when it will take place, whether it's within the next 55 days or not, I think is the only question, but I feel very strongly that Timtek will be supported," said Young, adding he has the same optimism for the $500,000 in aid for Pharmapac in Kemper County.

"Every one of these projects are worthwhile. Of course, you know I'm tickled to death because Timtek is in there and then the BRAC money is in there," said Sen. Videt Carmichael, who supports the bonds. "I'd like to see a little more money in for east Mississippi, but I'm satisfied with the bill as it is."

However, House members maintain that money for bridge repairs and renovations on community college and university campuses should be included, although they were not in the governor's call. They also want $30 million to meet the state's obligation under the Ayers settlement.

Gov. Barbour said he would expand the call for the session to include those measures, once the bond bills are addressed.