Some Mississippi lawmakers say the legislature needs to take a closer look at fixing the state’s roads and bridges.
Mississippi needs to increase funding for roads and bridges by nearly 400 million dollars a year. That’s according to a report produced earlier this year by the Mississippi Economic Council.
Some lawmakers say they will seriously need to consider increasing the state’s gas tax.
“Do we want to invest by paying a few more money at the fuel pump and taking care of those highways and bridges so that you don’t have to pay $200 or $300 a year to replace tires and shock absorbers and front-end alignments?” says Willie Simmons, a Democrat from Cleveland, and Chair of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee. “Those things cost you much more than a few pennies on a gallon of gas.”
Some lawmakers have also suggested using funds from the BP Oil Settlement to offset some of the costs to fix the state’s roads and bridges. Simmons says he would consider using the money, but is hesitant to use one-time money.
“I’m not opposed to that,” says House Transportation Chair, Republican Charles Busby of Pascagoula. However, Busby has been committed to ensuring that money be used solely on the coast. “I just want people to recognize that if something like that happens, that is exact same thing as sharing it with the rest of the state.”
Mississippi’s fuel taxes, the main source of state revenue for infrastructure repair, have remained at 18 cents per gallon since 1987.