State lawmakers are still working on answers to the question of how to repair the state's roads and bridges. A high dollar plan was presented by the Lieutenant Governor and Senators Monday.
The legislation passed the Senate finance committee this afternoon and the bill will be debated by the full Senate later this week.
Crumbling roads and bridges aren't new problems.
"For the past six years, we've been beating this horse," said Senator Willie Simmons. "Some would say we've been kicking the can down the road."
"Some other bills have come and gone that maybe addresses one piece or another piece, but what this package does is really look at it from a holistic approach," added Senator Joey Fillingane.
But the solution is new, coming in the form of a 281 page bill.
"All told, this is a $1 billion package to help fund infrastructure in our state over the next five years," said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.
The plan includes more for cities and counties.
"We're going to provide for $240 million in immediate needs," Reeves said. "We're also going to provide $600 million for long-term infrastructure for roads, bridges, dams, and other things."
The rest of the money breakdown: $125 million increased funds for cities and $200 million for emergency bridge repair, but there's a catch for those cities.
"We also require that those cities that receive that additional $125 million invest that money in infrastructure, roads and bridges or water and sewer," Reeves explained. "We also require that the cities actually match those dollars."
So then the question is, how will the state pay for that?
Leftover money at the end of the budget year would go to a new fund devoted to infrastructure.
They'd also redirect money form the current highway funding to local bridges projects the Governor would choose. The rest of the money would be borrowed.
But there is one thing Reeves was clear about.
"What it does not do is that it does not raise taxes on anybody," noted Reeves.
Part of the Senate plan leaves flexibility to take advantage of any available matching federal funds.
The Mississippi House has passed out multiple bills regarding new money for roads and bridges but not a singular proposal. One solution they've passed that's absent from the Senate plan is devoting a portion of use tax, or online tax collections, to roads and bridges.
The Senate Finance committee passed the legislation Monday. It's expected to go to the full Senate for debate this week.
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