Hinds Democrats may play hardball regarding water bond issue - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Hinds Democrats may play hardball regarding water bond issue

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It's in black and white, on page 213 of HB 1701, and signed into law by Governor Haley Barbour.

Section 44 authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to provide interest-free loans to the City of Jackson. It seems tailor-made for improving the city's infrastructure around the state grounds, to protect against a government shut down if there's another massive water main break in Jackson. The bill states the amount of the loans shall not exceed $6 million, and that's the exact amount the city is asking for now. But the Bond Commission is failing to move on it.

"I am incensed," says Senator Alice Harden, D-Hinds County. I don't know what the intention is, but it appears to me there are people on the Bond Commission who are scrutinizing, trying to veto a project that the legislature has already passed."

The Mississippi Bond Commission is made up of Governor Haley Barbour, Attorney General Jim Hood, and State Treasurer Tate Reeves.

Senator Harden and others from a Hinds County delegation met at the state capitol Wednesday to ask why Governor Barbour would now ask the legislature to support a $50 million package for a new bio fuel plant. It's one item on the agenda of a Special Session this Friday.

If the governor can't support them, the delegation says they may not support him.

"That would include asking our colleagues not to vote for some of those bonds. To get a bond bill passed it takes a 2/3 vote, more than a simple majority," says Representative Earle Banks, D-Hinds County.

It's unclear why the Commission left Jackson's request out of the state's newest schedule of bonds. It could be that Jackson hasn't yet filed the right paperwork.

"We're in contact with the Mississippi Development Authority, asking them what we need to do to access the money. Hopefully they'll give us instructions," says Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson.

But it doesn't appear the bond request has passed the Governor's sniff test, even though he's already signed off on it. Spokesman Dan Turner says the Governor would encourage the City of Jackson to borrow up to $15 million from the state's revolving fund, with interest rates at less than 2 percent.

Regarding the lawmakers' suggestion they might vote against the bio fuel plant, "I hope they would take a long hard look at that," Turner says.  

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