The 2018 Mississippi Legislative Session begins today. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, lawmakers will have a lot on their plate over the next three months.
State lawmakers are expected to tackle some big issues which were left on the back burner when the session ended last year. Republican leaders seem to be focused on re-writing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which is the funding formula used to send state tax dollars to public schools. Bobby Moak is Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. He says changing the formula is not a good idea.
"The reason why we did it in the first place was try to guarantee that school districts receive some sort of minimum funding. This takes that totally away."
The House and Senate left the last session deadlocked over how to fund state infrastructure improvements. One proposal floating around is to allow voters to decide to increase certain vehicle taxes to pay for repairs to roads and bridges. Republican political analyst Austin Barbour, of MPB's @ISSUE, says infrastructure is the most important item for lawmakers this session.
"You had a number of different groups around the state, from pretty much a non-partisan angle, traditional Republican supporters, the business community, roadbuilders, who have come together with Democrats, to say, "Hey, we've got to get something done with infrastructure.""
Legislators are also expected to seriously consider creating a state lottery to generate more revenue.
A special committee studied implementing a lottery during the summer, and presented its findings to lawmakers without a recommendation.