The Clarion-Ledger, 2/14/9

The massive new stimulus plan approved Friday could touch the life of nearly every Mississippian.

The $787 billion package offers tax breaks to individuals and businesses, increases spending on an array of government programs — from Medicaid to school lunches — and pours millions into construction of roads, bridges and military bases.

The Senate was expected to vote on the measure late Friday.

It would give Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration nearly $500 million in “stabilization” funds, mostly to spend on education. But about $88 million of that money could be used for other purposes — including covering state budget shortfalls.

According to Federal Funds Information for States, a non-profit budget research group, the stimulus package contains about $790 million to help Mississippi cover Medicaid patients. Demands on Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor, are increasing as the economy worsens.