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franklin county times

Nissan deal a generous commitment of tax dollars

By Staff
Dec. 19, 2000
It took a request through the Mississippi Public Records Act and the threat of legal action, but the Mississippi Development Authority has finally disclosed more of the details in its agreement with Nissan.
And, as these details surface many were withheld from members of the Mississippi Legislature as they met in special session in November new questions are being raised about the generosity of the deal.
Is Mississippi giving away too much to get the 4,000 new jobs and $930 million in capital investment promised by the Nissan plant?
Generous is one word to describe the agreement. As they review newly-revealed documents, legislators may have other words, too. And, again, because of serious efforts to manipulate both the timing and minimal disclosure of the material, the Musgrove administration has created more controversy than necessary in this case.
Only because information was gained through a Public Records Act filing by The Associated Press and other media groups are we beginning to comprehend the real generosity behind this project.
And now we can speculate on why much of this information was withheld from members of the Mississippi Legislature when it approved the plan in that special session the day before the presidential election. The timing of the special session was curious, and seems to follow Musgrove's penchant for telling only as much of the story as he chooses.
Now we know that Mississippi taxpayers will pay for air travel of Nissan executives to Mississippi presumably from Japan or wherever they're coming from for the next two years.
Now we know Mississippi taxpayers will pay up to $10 million for any damages caused to the Nissan plant by shifting of Yazoo Clay, the unstable soil which plagues many homes and businesses in central Mississippi.
Now we know why the governor's advertising and public relations favorite the GodwinGroup of Jackson is benefiting from $5 million in bonds earmarked for marketing and advertising included in the deal. MDA and Nissan will decide how to spend the money.
In view of the controversy raised by the need to remove a handful of Madison County families from their land to make way for Nissan, legislators will likely want additional details on the entire package.
We still believe the attraction of Nissan to Mississippi is in the state's long term best interests. Some of the generous spending and manipulation, however, should have been avoided  even in the secret negotiations which produced the deal.