A new report is showing that state infrastructure spending in Mississippi generates more than one and a half billion dollars of economic impact and supports 32-thousand jobs. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the state Road Builders Association says the report proves the need to increase spending on roads and bridges.
The association commissioned the report in order to demonstrate the positive economic impact that could come from increased infrastructure spending.
Joe McGee, the incoming president of the association, says the state is billions of dollars behind in needed repairs to roads and bridges...a number that will only grow if the state waits.
"It is kind of like having a hole in your roof. You can go up their and put a couple shingles on it and stop the leak or you can wait and replace the whole roof. And that is the way road buuilding is. If you don't keep up with the problem then you lose control of the problem," McGee said.
About 21-percent of the state's 17-thousand bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete.
Northern district Transportation commissioner Mike Tagert says the state will need to find a way to raise revenue in order to increase spending.
"We need additional revenue. Period. We need to prioritize transportation infastructure within our state. Just as we have other aspects that are as importnat. There is no downside to investing in transportation," Tagert said.
Tagert says every options should be on the table, including raising the gas tax, using general fund dollars, or building toll roads.
Other states have taken steps to increase their spending, says the studies' lead author Allison Black.
"Straight gas tax increases in Wyoming and Vermont. Ohio and Massachusetts actually got some additional revenue from their turnpikes. They changed it a little bit so they could have some additional revenue. In Virginia, you had a situation where they actually reduced the motor fuels tax but they increased a sales tax on gasoline," Black said.
But tax hike proposals could face difficulty in the Republican controlled legislature where leaders have repeatedly promised not to increase any taxes.