Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce held its annual pre-Legislative Breakfast Reception in Biloxi Tuesday morning with members of the Coast delegation discussing a few issues, which would impact the residents in South Mississippi. The main concerns were:

BUDGET — District 118 Rep-resentative Greg Haney (R-Gulfport) said keeping the $6 billion state budget within its means, “will be a challenge.” District 52 Senator Brice Wiggins (Ocean Springs, Gautier) expressed that putting funds to specific programs that are doing their job is important.

EDUCATION — District 119 Representative, Legislative Black Caucus Chair, and Pass Christian Alumnus Sonya Williams Barnes (D-Gulfport) spoke about the increase of funding towards education as a stabilizer for the economy. “We have only funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program twice in 20 years, so we don’t know if it will work until we give money to this.”

TRANSPORTATION — House Transportation and District 111 Representative Charles Busby (R-Pascagoula) explained that he would approve of a gas tax coming out of his committee, but only if this would be used to fix the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) roads and bridges. District 51 Senator Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) declared that “expenditures in every agency should be accountable, so we’re not placing money where it should not go.”

STATE LOTTERY — Haney expressed that he had been to a few Select Lottery Committee meeting in Jackson, but “the information from the report will be released soon and it just gives facts, no recommendations.”

BP MONEY — With every member providing their input on this, District 117 Representative Scott DeLano (R-Biloxi) put it best when he said the Coast delegation will “fight for the most money that we can get.” Williams then countered, claiming that “no one” on the table had reached out to her or anyone in the black caucus and that she “would attend any meeting,” as her “constituents are the same as yours” when referring to Coast residents.

Tuesday, January 2 is the first day of the Mississippi Legislative Session.

Story by Hunter Dawkins