Governor expands call of special session to include MDOT budget - - Jackson, MS

Governor expands call of special session to include MDOT budget

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Phil Bryant has issued a proclamation expanding the call of the special session that was called Wednesday. It is taking place concurrent with the ongoing regular legislative session.

The expanded call will allow the legislator to consider funding for the Department of Transportation and for the Office of State Aid Road Construction.

"At the request of Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, I am expanding the call of the special legislative session so lawmakers may also consider funding measures for MDOT and the Office of State Aid Road Construction," Gov. Phil Bryant said. "I hope that this expanded call will allow the Legislature to resolve its outstanding business swiftly."

Millions of dollars for roads are up in the air at the Capitol. Without a change, the Department of Transportation would run out of money in June.

That's money to make your drive a smooth and safe one. It is in limbo at the state house.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Willie Simmons says it's got to get done.

"We can't go home and rest comfortably without sending those millions of dollars to the counties for state aid and funding the department of transportation," explained Simmons.

Politics are getting in the way of final passage on these two bills.

"I knew what the Senate had, what their priorities were," explained Representative Robert Johnson. "That's fine, even though that's not the way we do things over in the house. We don't prioritize projects."

Johnson chairs the House Transportation Committee and says the House has a different plan. It would to add in $41 million of one-time money for state roads and bridges.

"We could take care of over a hundred bridges in the state with that kind of money, instead of three projects in three or four different districts, we can take care of 40 or 50 districts," said Johnson.

Monday night's vote wasn't about party lines but instead House vs. Senate. The House calling out the Senate for what they believe are "pet projects". Several representatives tweeted out pictures of the vote board.

Rep. Nick Bain said, "The chairman had asked us to trust him and to show a sign of solidarity and that's what we did. We said OK, we agree with you and we all voted red."

Three different conference reports have been filed and all failed.

"If we do what Chairman Johnson is speaking of, we may have to undo the entire budget," said Senator Simmons. "I'm not really sure how we'd be able to do it. So it's just something we have to continue to work on."

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