While legislators wrangle over the state department of transportation budget, one lawmaker says solving the real problem will take Mississippians speaking out.
Legislators in the House and Senate are at odds over the state department of transportation's budget. The House wants to take a portion of the internet sales tax already being collected to fund roads and bridges. The Senate disagrees with that approach. Monday Republican Charles Busby, who chairs the House transportation committee expressed his frustration before members voted not to pass the budget.
"There's a lot of give and take in politics and some people seem more intent on always taking and never doing much giving," said Busby.
House members say they want to find existing revenue to fix infrastructure in the midst of the state's on-going budget shortfalls. House Speaker Philip Gunn says they've offered the Senate three options, but there's no move to discuss a solution.
"I think it's a fundamental function of government to take care of our roads and bridges. It is more than just what we want, it is actually our responsibility and the House has tried this session to meet that responsibility head-on," said Gunn.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves accuses the House of trying to create an internet sales tax, which he says is unconstitutional.
"Is raising taxes unconstitutionally raising taxes important enough to them that they're willing to go against an agreement that they made that they agreed to," said Reeves.
Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, chairs the Senate transportation committee. He says the money generated wouldn't be enough to fund the $3.5 billion needed. He says it up to Mississippians to tell their legislators they're willing to pay more than 18 cents in gas tax. He says paying 24 cents would generate $155 million dollars.
"The citizens need to let us know, they don't mind paying a few more pennies at the tank," said Simmons.
Simmons says the state's gas tax hasn't been raised since 1987. Simmons says a lottery would generate $100 million and together wtih a gas tax increase, they could begin to really tackle infrastructure improvements.