The High Cost of Impasse

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House leaders spent several hours Wednesday afternoon meeting privately about bond bills.

House Speaker Billy McCoy said they're trying to come up with a compromise acceptable to the House, the Senate and to Gov. Haley Barbour.

The meetings came shortly after the House rejected an attempt by Republicans to remove Barbour's job creation bill from the Ways and Means Committee.

Democratic committee chairman Percy Watson said he has no intentions of bringing it up for a vote and there's no end in sight to the session

Area community and business leaders reacted to the legislative impasse.

Over $21 million in benefits for east Mississippi is in the bill under consideration. Leaders in our part of the state made it plain jobs are at risk if this doesn't pass.

Lamar McDonald, who heads the state BRAC committee that is working to save military installations, said the $11 million in the bill could be the difference between winning the fight or losing it.

"It looks likely at least some of our bases are going to be on the list. Who they are we don't know yet, of course. They're all at risk. I'll just leave it at that. I would consider it crucial," said McDonald.

Pharma Pac in Dekalb is in the bill for $500,000, which would enable them to expand and add jobs. Joe Donavon, a co-owner of the company, said the money would be put to good use.

"In essence, we're going to double our manufacturing capacity," said Donavon. "We'll add approximately 90 jobs in Kemper County."

The company already employees 150. Donavon said the future depends on the Legislature.

"We had seen the future as very bright. Right now we're very concerned. We have a lot of opportunities and we've run out of space. We're going to have to start looking at other alternatives. We'd love to stay in Kemper County. We want to stay in Mississippi, but if this bond issue is not passed, it's going to force us to look elsewhere," said Donavon.

The biggest of the projects is Tim Tek, led by Shuqualak Lumber and partnered by Mississippi State University. The bill contains $10 million in bonds to bring it to reality.

"There would be approximately 140 direct jobs at the plant which will be built in Lauderdale County, with a $6.75 million payroll which equates out to an average salary of $48,000 each," said Bill Thomas, president of Shuqualak Lumber.

Thomas said there are people standing in line in other states if Mississippi fails to find it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.