A bill that will allow state government to borrow nearly 250 million dollars next year is on its way to the Governor. But some lawmakers say the measure doesn't do enough to help the states historically black universities.
In the final days of the 2015 legislative session lawmakers are rushing to pass a state budget. Yesterday they approved Senate Bill 2906 a measure that will allow the state to borrow enough money to fund a number of projects that range from paving roads to creating a new aquarium.
Republican Senator Joey Fillingane is the Chair of the Finance Committee.
“There are museums, small and large, there’s a large new aquarium and then just some typical renovation and repair type monies,” says Fillingane. “There are a lot of needs and a lot that we weren’t able to meet, obviously, but I think 250 million dollars in bonding for all of these projects is a really positive thing for the state and we’re very proud of it.”
Two projects that weren’t in the bill would have gone to improve student and faculty housing at Mississippi Valley and Alcorn State Universities; issues that have plagued the schools for a number of years. Democratic Representative Adrienne Wooten of Jackson says there is a problem with the state priorities.
“When you have children that don’t have a decent place to lay their heads when they enter into an institution of higher learning and when you look at the projects that are being funded in comparison to that type of need there is something wrong with that.” Wooten says.
In recent years lawmakers have limited the amount the state can borrow to how much it paid back to creditors during the previous year. This year that cap was set at about 261 million dollars.