The Sun Herald, 2/17/9

Without any floor debate Tuesday, the Mississippi House of Representatives on a voice vote approved an extra $20 million to be pumped into the state wind pool in hopes of lowering rates.

The appropriation for the Mississippi Insurance Department, which included the wind pool money, would set aside a total of $40 million for the government insurance program for fiscal year 2010. The wind pool is “insurance of last resort” for homeowners who can’t get wind coverage from the private sector.

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 Ron Peresich of the Gulf Coast Business Council and other 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.

House Appropriations Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, said Tuesday much money was given to the state after Hurricane Katrina, but the Coast still needs help. He believes the extra $20 million from the budget contingency fund this year is worth the expense to help stimulate the Coast’s economy.

“I think we’ll get our money back in taxes,” Stringer said.