Special session on road and bridge money beginning

MGN Online

Finding money for roads and bridges is the focus of a special session Mississippi lawmakers are opening Thursday.

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 12:44 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Finding money for roads and bridges is the focus of a special session Mississippi lawmakers are opening Thursday.

Republican leaders have outlined a package to divert existing tax revenue, take on debt and create a lottery.

"It's time to get this done," Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday before the session began. "We don't need to wait another week, another month."

Bryant was forced this year to issue an emergency order closing a number of county bridges after the federal government threatened to yank the state's highway funding when some counties refused to close bridges on their own. The Office of State Aid Road Construction reports 437 closed county bridges statewide as of Tuesday. Another 1,700-plus bridges have weight limits.

House Speaker Philip Gunn proposes diverting 35 percent of the tax collected on internet and catalog sales to cities and counties, which would have been worth $90 million of the $257 million collected in the 12 months ended June 30. The outline of Bryant's proposal issued in the call says that cities and counties could spend new money only on repair, maintenance or reconstruction of roads and bridges.

The lottery measure would create a lottery corporation run by directors appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Proceeds would be earmarked for spending by the Mississippi Department of Transportation for 10 years, along with proceeds from a tax on sports betting and increased registration taxes on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Reeves and Gunn said the overall plan would provide about $100 million a year in continuing revenue to local governments and another $100 million a year to the state Department of Transportation.

Lawmakers could borrow up to $300 million more for immediate work, paying back debt with revenue from an existing casino tax.

Legislative Democrats, in the minority in both the House and Senate, said Republican leaders were pushing forward with too little public discussion about what a transportation funding plan should include.

"It's not right to do this in secret; it's not right to do this in a hurry," said Sen. Hob Bryan, an Amory Democrat.

Bryant, though, said he, Gunn and Reeves have been working on a plan since the regular session ended in April.

"This was not done overnight or behind closed doors," Bryant said.

Lawmakers could also debate an agreement on how the state should spend $700 million in economic damage payments from BP PLC after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Legislative leaders are discussing dividing that money, giving 75 percent to the three coastal counties and 25 percent to the rest of the state.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98886

Reported Deaths: 2979
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
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