The Clarion-Ledger, 10/10/8

More than a third of the $100 million the state received from a 2005 settlement of the MCI/WorldCom tax case was used to pay off a major part of the debt on the failed Mississippi Beef Plant, according to court documents.

Upon receipt of the money in cash, the Legislature appropriated $50 million to strengthen the Public Employees Retirement System fund, $35 million to a state guaranteed loan on the beef plant, $10 million to the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute and $5 million to the Department of Public Safety for Highway Safety Patrol training.

The beef plant opened Aug. 23, 2004, in Oakland and closed three months later, eventually costing taxpayers $55 million.

Attorney fees from the settlement are now in dispute, with State Auditor Stacey Pickering seeking a judgment in Hinds County Circuit Court to reclaim $14 million paid to the Langston Law Firm and other outside attorneys retained by state Attorney General Jim Hood.