The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Presidential Candidate Gov. Richardson Endorses Expanded DRA Budget

Posted on December 12, 2007 at 02:56 PM

The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus commends Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) for being the first Democratic Presidential candidate to take a meaningful stand on the Delta regional issues. Gov. Richardson today pledged a major expansion for the Delta Regional Authority budget up to $30 million if he is elected President.

Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff said “We are glad that Gov. Richardson took this step to address the needs of a long-neglected region that lacks so many of the opportunities that the rest of America enjoys, and we urge all the Presidential candidates from both parties to join him in doing so. We were pleased that Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee pledged a much larger DRA budget earlier this month.”

“We commend Gov. Richardson for pledging to expand the DRA budget and help promote economic development in the eight-state Delta region that stretches from southern Illinois to New Orleans, LA,” said Lee Powell, Caucus executive director. “On the Republican side, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas recently pledged a similar expansion of the DRA budget, and we are asking all Presidential candidates to do the same.”

Mayor Barrett Harrison of Blytheville, member of the Caucus board of directors, said “We want all the candidates, and not just Gov. Huckabee, Sen. Hillary Clinton with her longstanding ties to Arkansas, Sen. Barack Obama, who represents southern Illinois, and former Sen. Fred Thompson from Tennessee to pay attention to our region, because it ought to be a NATIONAL and not just a regional priority to put an end to the gross injustice where a region of eight states, 240 counties and more than nine million people always lags so far behind the rest of America. The fact that Bill Richardson is not from the region makes his pledge all the more impressive.”

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, another Caucus board member, said “We know that all the candidates will be proclaiming their true-blue devotion to the Delta at the time of our major conference in Arkansas on Jan. 30-31, 2008, because that will be taking place only several days before Presidential primaries in six Delta states–Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, and Illinois on Feb. 5, and Louisiana on Feb. 9. But we really appreciate candidates like Gov. Huckabee and Gov. Richardson who are stepping up to the plate and paying attention to the Delta right now.”

The Delta Caucus received a copy of Gov. Richardson’s statement and it is reproduced immediately below. “We are not endorsing any candidate but want to promote a debate among all of them as to what they would do if elected President to fight poverty in the Delta,” Powell said.

Richardson Addresses Economic Development in Mississippi Delta For Immediate Release December 12, 2007 Contact: Tom Reynolds (Richardson campaign) (505) 681-1832 SANTA FE, NM– New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson today addressed economic development issues in the Mississippi Delta.

“When I am President, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) will have the full funding it requires– $30 million per year,” Richardson said. “I will give the Authority full sub-Cabinet status, and I will demand regular and direct briefings from the DRA’s Chairman on the status of development programs.”

Richardson criticized the Bush administration’s failure to create jobs and develop the Mississippi Delta region’s economy. The Delta region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

“The Bush administration has ignored the Mississippi Delta for too long,” Governor Richardson said. “I am committed to creating jobs for all Americans, and I am proud to have the most detailed jobs plan of any candidate running for President. I have turned New Mexico’s economy around as Governor, and I will do so nationwide as President.” END OF RICHARDSON STATEMENT

PRESIDENTIAL FORUM ON THE DELTA RIGHT BEFORE THE EARLY FEBRUARY PRIMARIES: All major campaigns have been invited to present their views at the conference on Jan. 30-31. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Gov. Huckabee’s campaign have indicated that either the candidate or a high-level spokesperson will speak, and the Caucus is waiting on responses from the others. The Clinton campaign speaker will either be the candidate or Bob Nash, Deputy Campaign Manager for Sen. Clinton and formerly a high-level White House aide to President Bill Clinton. If Huckabee cannot speak in person, his Finance Chair, French Hill, a former high-level Presidential appointee for the first President George H. W. Bush at White House and US Dept. of Treasury, will speak. Either Gov. Richardson or his Arkansas chair, Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena, will speak.

DRA accomplishments even with a small budget: The current budget is $12 million, and Richardson committed to increase that to $30 million. the DRA used $48.5 million in federal funds to leverage $213 million in other federal funds and $493.4 million in private sector funding for a total investment of $754.9 million. This investment leads to a result of 31,000 jobs created and/or retained, over 24,240 families with new water and/or sewer service, and more than 6,235 people with job training in their local area.

“If the DRA has done that much with a budget that is far too small, they will do a lot more if the funding gains a much-deserved expansion,” said Powell.