GULFPORT, Miss. (WKRG) – Communities throughout south Mississippi could begin major improvement projects soon with federal money.

$47.4 million is coming to Forrest, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jones, Lamar and Pearl River counties from earmarks made in the federal spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden on Dec. 23.

An additional $9.3 million was allocated to statewide initiatives that could benefit the southern and coastal region.

The 4,000-page bill totaled $1.7 trillion and will keep the federal government operating through Sept. 30, 2023.

$15.3 billion in earmarks were allocated to 7,200 projects proposed by members of Congress for their home states. The wording for these expenses were all included in attachments that made up an additional 2,000 pages of text.

Data from Bloomberg Government shows the $321.2 million earmarked by Mississippi’s Congressional delegation is the 19th highest among all U.S. states and territories while the Magnolia state is the 35th most populous. California ($1.3BN), Texas ($794.5M) and Alabama ($777.9M) had the highest shares.

The $22.2 million earmarked by Rep. Steven Palazzo for the 13 counties in his Congressional district was slightly below the average $23.9 million requested by each of the 332 lawmakers that asked for project funding. 109 members did not make any earmarks.

The largest shares coming to south Mississippi are:

  • $10 million to construct a new aeromedical evacuation training facility at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi
  • $3.6 million to construct a new facility for the Pearl River County Hospital
  • $3 million to establish an advanced energy validation and demonstration site at the University of Southern Mississippi

A full break-down of earmarked projects in south Mississippi included in the bill:

Three of the four members of Mississippi’s delegation to the House of Representatives voted against the bill in what was a mostly party line vote. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D- Bolton), the state’s only democrat in the House voted in favor.

Sen. Wicker voted in favor of the bill in the Senate, which passed 68-29. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith casted a vote in opposition.

Not all of the requests from south Mississippi made it in the final bill.

Community project funding proposals submitted by Hyde-Smith, Palazzo and Wicker that weren’t included in the bill include:

Forrest County General Hospital Nursing Home$27.9 million to construct a 120-bed nursing home facility
Rail Authority of East Mississippi$8 million to address critical infrastructure needs in rural southeast Mississippi: Lauderdale, Clarke, Wayne, Greene, and George Counties
University of South Mississippi$5 million for high school teachers to earn a STEM Education Certificates and further their education to benefit their students
Pearl River County$5 million for emergency operations and multi-purpose building
University of South Mississippi$4 million to research, develop, and deliver new training methods for increasing the digital forensics capacity of rural law enforcement agencies
City of Hattiesburg
$4 million to improve and repurpose two buildings in the city
Trent Lott International Airport (Moss Point)$3.75 million to construct a new concrete aircraft parking apron and connector taxiway
Stennis International Airport (Hancock County)$3.5 million to construct a multi-user aero strip to increase air traffic 
City of Hattiesburg$3 million for ball field and security upgrades at Tatum Park
Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport$2.5 million to replace sequencing flashing lights and increase safety
Miss. Dept. of Transportation – George County$1.85 million to widen Old Highway 63 to add a center turn lane, allowing safe east turns into the George County Fairgrounds.
City of Gautier$935,000 to finalize a health and wellness initiative to provide low-income, minority residents a safe place to conduct multiple recreational activities
Turkey Fork Recreation Area – Greene County$600,000 to fund recreational access opportunities in the Turkey Fork Recreation Area of the DeSoto National Forest in Greene County
Greene County$300,000 to construct a new multi-purpose Cooperative Extension Building