State leaders discuss bridge funding options - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

State leaders discuss bridge funding options

Soiurce: WLBT Soiurce: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The money questions of how to fund the emergency bridge repairs are being heard by state leaders. The political back and forth from the House and Senate is similar to what it was at the end of the Legislative session.

READ MORE: Governor Bryant orders immediate closure of 83 locally owned bridges

The difference now is that there's an immediate need to get money flowing to these county bridges.

Drivers don't know always know the details of what's happening behind the Capitol dome, but they do know what's it's like to detour for closed bridges.

"It's not like the problem is going to go away if we don't address it," said driver Raymond White. "It's not something you can just ignore. Sooner or later someone's going to get hurt. And then once they get hurt, then it'll be now everybody's rushing to get it fixed."

"Emergency session or something like that," added driver Adrienne Rhodes. "Cause it's too bad."

RELATED: Counties have no choice but to close bridges in midst of emergency declaration

That decision can only be made by Governor Bryant and he's making it clear that he won't call a special session yet.

"The Speaker and Lt. Governor need to work together," explained Bryant. "They have been working together. And get close to a common agreement that their members will vote for."

But there seems to be another stalemate there. Speaker Philip Gunn laid out the House proposal Thursday morning. The plan includes something they're calling a tax swap.

RELATED: Bridge closures impacting residents across Hinds County

"The total net impact at the end of four years would be your four percent income tax would be eliminated and your gas tax would go up eight cents," described Gunn.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said in a statement:

I am a Republican. I am a conservative. I am against raising gas taxes. The Senate passed a comprehensive $1 billion plan without raising anybody’s taxes to address Mississippi’s infrastructure needs, and we look forward to working with the House and Gov. Bryant to address road and bridge maintenance. 

No matter how you look at it, the Democratic caucus thinks the politics are getting in the way of the solution.

"We've had too many tax cuts," said Sen. David Blount. "That's why the budget is a mess. That's why we have an infrastructure crisis. And we need to spend money on roads and bridges and the only idea they can come up with is a tax cut. It just doesn't make sense."

Drivers aren't as worried about the politics as they are smoother roads and safer bridges.

READ MORE: City of Jackson closes 11 bridges for repairs

"Take whichever options are going to get the bridges fixed first," said White.

Governor Bryant did note that even if he calls a special session he doesn't think it would be within the next week. He thinks they need more time to craft a solution.

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