Miss. governor calls special session to discuss infrastructure funding solutions

Updated Sep 4, 2018
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Photo: ms.gov.Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Photo: ms.gov.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant convened a special legislative session on August 23 to discuss infrastructure funding solutions for the state, Transport Topics reports. In an August 21 proclamation, he stated, “It is my judgment that the public interest requires that the Legislature be convened in extraordinary session.”

The first order of business listed on the proclamation was to create the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2018, which would ensure that “an amount equal to a portion of the use tax revenue collected under the Mississippi use tax law” is distributed to municipalities to support the “repair, maintenance and reconstruction” of their roads, streets and bridges.

The state’s infrastructure earned a C- in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2012 infrastructure report card.

According to the news agency, the proclamation also provided for a portion of use tax revenue collected be deposited into the local system bridge replacement and rehabilitation fund. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) most recent bridge report classifies 11.7 percent of the Mississippi’s bridges as structurally deficient. The governor signed a state of emergency proclamation in April ordering the Mississippi Department of Transportation to close 83 bridges deemed deficient by the National Bridge Inspection Standards and the Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction.

The proclamation also called for the creation of an emergency road and bridge repair fund, as well as a tax on electric and hybrid vehicles. The second major point of the proclamation was to create a state lottery, with the proceeds going to the state highway fund.

“Using revenue generated by internet sales taxes, sports betting, electric and hybrid vehicle user fees and a state lottery, the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act will provide more than $200 million annually to meet Mississippi’s infrastructure needs,” Gov. Bryant tweeted on Aug. 21.

This special session is the latest in a series of actions taken by Mississippi lawmakers to boost infrastructure funding.