State in danger of losing promised oil royalties

Published 10:03 am Thursday, May 25, 2017

Here is a painful irony regarding President Donald Trump and our beloved Mississippi: Trump wants to stop sharing Gulf of Mexico oil royalties with Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

It’s part of the president’s new budget submitted to Congress, and if it survives legislative scrutiny as presented, Mississippi, along with Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, would stand to lose billions of dollars.

The irony, of course, is that Mississippi is a very strong Trump state, voting in a strong majority for the president in the 2016 election. Ditto for Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.  Yet these Trump states would take a hard blow from the President’s proposed budget.

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The payments Trump is seeking to curtail involve the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Act, designed to encourage offshore drilling for oil by sharing federal funds to states impacted by drilling.

The payments have delivered modest sums so far, governmentally speaking, but are scheduled to take a broad jump beginning in 2018 to a total of more than $270 million, and Mississippi is projected to receive a total of some $61 million in the year 2022 if Trump’s new budget plan isn’t enacted, keeping the dollars for federal use.

Based on Mississippi’s current budget woes — we can’t find a way to pay for roads and bridges and are cutting mental health services — the loss of tens of millions in annual revenue would be a hard blow.

Let’s hope Congress leaves this part of Trump’s budget proposal alone, keeping Mississippi in line to receive its promised oil royalties.