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Stimulus would mean infrastructure to state

The U.S. Senate this week will likely take up an economic recovery bill that cleared the House last week. U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, who voted for the bill, hopes the Senate will improve it.

Specifically, Childers, D-Booneville, hopes more of the $819 billion total is devoted to infrastructure projects. The version that passed House devoted $140 billion to infrastructure improvement. The vote in the House was split among party lines, with Republicans unanimously voting against it, along with 11 conservative Democrats.

Childers said his reason for supporting the bill was simple.

“Every day that I pick up a paper from Mississippi it seems like jobs are being cut somewhere,” Childers said. He was one of two Mississippi representataives — Bennnie Thompson, D-Bolton, the other — to vote for the measure. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, and Gregg Harper, R-Pearl, voted against it.

The bill’s primary purpose is job creation, though there have been several rounds of politically charged fights over where some of the money would go.

President Barack Obama says the stimulus would create three million jobs and has spent considerable energy in an attempt to line up GOP support.

The House version would mean money for infrastructure repair and maintenance in Mississippi. Childers said schools in the 1st District would get $91 million, to be used for projects like bulding repair and maintenance.

“This recovery package will help. It’s not a cure-all,” Childers said. “Quite frankly, this is not perfect legislation. It didn’t go far enough with infrastructure.”

Harper said the bill was a bundle of wasteful spending.

“The American people know we cannot borrow and spend our way back to prosperity,” he said in a written statement.

Whatever version lands on Obama’s desk for his signature, the money it sends to Mississippi will be administered through the Mississippi Development Authority, Childers said. Work would probably start within 90 days.

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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