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May 14, 2010

GOVERNOR BARBOUR VETOES PORTION OF
HOUSE BILL 1642

Governor Haley Barbour today vetoed a portion of House Bill 1642, protecting $20 million of funds owed to the federal government as matching contributions for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Governor Barbour vetoed a section of the bill that subsidized the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association, or Windpool, with funds from the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund. The Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund exists to repay the federal government for $400 million of hazard mitigation expenditures in South Mississippi.

“For more than three years, we have tried to get the federal government to accept in-kind payment of the nearly $100 million we owe them, but they have not agreed,” Governor Barbour said. “Further, the devastation caused by recent tornadoes in Central and North Mississippi will require additional state funds to match federal disaster-related expenditures. Therefore, spending $20 million of the Hurricane Disaster Reserve for any purpose other than this federal match is not only unacceptable but irresponsible.” 

The Windpool provides Gulf Coast residents and businesses insurance for property in high-risk areas that are not covered by private insurers. The program has received $160 million from state and federal Community Development Block Grant funds to temporarily lower insurance rates.

Long-term solutions are needed to continue recovery and secure affordable insurance, Governor Barbour said. The Wind Mitigation Retrofit Program is the right approach to rebuilding the Gulf Coast. The program uses $20 million in federal funds to help homeowners make their homes sturdier rather than relying on subsidies.

“While I continue to believe the state must focus on lowering insurance rates along the coast, I believe a long-term approach requires us to focus on strengthening construction instead of continuing to subsidize insurance policies through the Windpool.”

To read the veto message, click here.