Lawmakers are looking at ways to raise more money to fix the state's roads and bridges. MPB's Maura Moed reports.
The Mississippi Economic Council outlined a $375 million infrastructure funding recommendation at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation committees yesterday at the Capitol. Options include increasing the tax on motor fuel, vehicle registration fees and other ways to tax road use.
Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland is Chairman of the committee. He does not agree with increasing the tax on gas.
"Personally, I prefer using the user fee because sale tax is a regressive tax. It's a tax on you to support highways, even if you don't drive a vehicle. Those individuals who are going to be utilizing our highways should be the ones to pay for it," says Simmons.
Michael Perkins drives the bumpy roads of the Capitol City everyday. He says he doesn't care what the tax or fee is. He just wants to lessen his visits to the mechanic.
"Dealing with the pot holes and the different divots in the uneven pavement have caused me to at least put in thousands of dollars of work on my vehicles," Perkins says.
The $375 million in new spending would supply pavement and roadway maintenance, and rehabilitation of 424 deficient bridges. 138 posted bridges would also be repaired or replaced.
Scott Waller, the executive vice president of the MEC says fixing the roads can not be put off any more.
"If we fail to do it at a small number now, it's going to be a very large number later. The revenues are just not there to support all of the needs that we have, so we're going to have to do something. The longer we wait, the more it's going to cost," says Waller.
According to the MEC, the state hasn't provided any major funding increase for road maintenance, highway and bridge maintenance, and construction since 1987.