State Senator says proposed airport legislation is about economic progress

JACKSON, Miss.- The city of Jackson and state leaders are going back forth over control of the airport, earlier this week we heard from city leaders and the NAACP.

WJTV’s Lucy Dieckhaus spoke with the author of the bill today who says this is not about race.

“This is about economic progress and anybody that makes it about something else, i think it’s desperation,” said Senator Josh Harkins.

Senator Josh Harkins says his bill is about improving the airport and making it more convenient for all Mississippians.

“You are still willing to drive three hours possibly spend the night park dinner, and if it cheaper for you to do that then we need to do a better job at trying to recruit other airlines to come in and do something to where we can get some relief to our businesses and our citizens,” said Josh Harkins.

Harkins says he is watching other airports around the country and points to the Syracuse airport as a success story, where New York State took it over.

In North Carolina, the state tried to take over the Charlotte airport, but the city fought that, and it’s now in limbo because of a lawsuit.

Senator Harkins says that case may be tied up because the state didn’t clearly define who had what responsibilities.

Regardless of what happens here in Jackson, an F.A.A spokesman tells me that they would need to review and approve any changes in sponsorship to the airport.

“We’re going to do the steps we need to do in order to make this happen and i think first thing first is to change the law,” said Josh Harkins.

The mayor of Jackson and many city leaders are opposed to these changes, earlier this week mayor Yarber said, “The airport is the result of the exclusive investment of Jacksonians, ranging from the early 1960s to date.”

But Harkins says in its current form, they city will not lose revenue.

He says last year the city received about 200-hundred thousand dollars from the airport in sales tax and property tax.

“The city will continue to receive the revenues it receives were talking about the makeup of the board, were expanding the board and bringing in other parts of the state

besides the city of Jackson to help govern and lead the board,” said Harkins.


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