The federal economic stimulus bill, currently undergoing a reshaping in the Senate, is seen by the states as welcome relief for their budgets.
Even Republican governors meeting over the weekend for the most part were hopeful that a stimulus package would pass Congress. Not a single Republican member supported the $819 billion package that passed the U.S. House last week, but the governors saw it differently.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour expressed concern about strings that might be attached to stimulus funds, and accurately cited some of the elements of the House bill as overreaching on social spending with dubious merit. But even Barbour has been measured in his criticism, and when House Speaker Billy McCoy questioned his comments about possibly refusing some of the funds, the governor clarified the point to suggest he probably wouldn’t have a problem with most of what the state is likely to get.
Under the House legislation, Mississippi would receive about $2.6 billion – $637 million to cover budget shortfalls, $353 million for highways and bridges and $249 million for school modernization. The package, according to The Associated Press, also includes $52 million for wastewater treatment and sewers, $20 million for mass transit, $16 million for Head Start, $13 million for education technology grants and $7 million for low-income energy assistance.