State legislators persistence pays off in obtaining millions for barrier islands

Gov. Haley Barbour said President Obama had opposed supplemental funds such as the more than $500 million Congress approved for Mississippi on Thursday, but state officials convinced the president it was critical for recovery.

At the Mississippi Press Association convention in Biloxi Friday, Barbour said that as a result of the pleading, Obama didn’t oppose Mississippi’s relatively small portion of the $106 billion defense bill. Mississippi will receive $439 million for restoration of the Barrier Islands and $49 million for repairs to the old Army ammunition plant at Stennis Space Center, among other funds.

Barbour has met with the Obama administration several times since the president took office to discuss the matter and he makes the case that a supplemental appropriation was the only way to go.

Barbour gave much credit to Sen. Thad Cochran, who has said he won’t seek another term, for securing supplemental funds over the years. Cochran — ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee — Sen. Roger Wicker as well as U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson made the case for much of the money in the bill passed Thursday.

“We ought to say a prayer every day that Thad Cochran runs for re-election,” Barbour said.