The Sun Herald, 2/19/9

Hoping federal stimulus money will provide wiggle room in the state budget, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday endorsed a plan to prop up the insurance wind pool with another $20 million for fiscal year 2010.

Members of the Gulf Coast Business Council and others say the measure is crucial to the Coast’s Katrina recovery and to the state’s fiscal wellbeing. They met with Bryant and Senate President Pro tem Billy Hewes III, R-Gulfport, Wednesday about a proposal to pump an additional $20 million, for a total of $40 million, into the state wind pool for the new year. A few years ago, the Legislature set aside a total of $80 million for the program over several years, including $20 million for fiscal 2010. But recently, Coast leaders have asked for an additional $60 million over the next few years, which would bring the total to $140 million. The money is aimed at offsetting premium increases.

A recent study from the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University shows that the wind pool cash would more than pay for itself if 90 percent of the money goes toward rate reductions. The study shows that rate reductions could generate 715 local jobs, $26.9 million in new state tax revenue and $72 million in consumer spending.