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Democrats want more say in roads, bridges fix

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Democrats want more say in roads, bridges fix
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MPB News

State and legislative leaders are still going back-and-forth on how to fund repairs to Mississippi's languishing infrastructure. MPB's Ezra Wall reports.

Democratic leaders in the Mississippi Legislature are asking Republican Governor Phil Bryant for a seat at the negotiating table when it comes time to talk about roads and bridges. Legislators are at a years-long impasse over how to fund repair projects on the state's crumbling streets and highways. Senator Derrick Simmons of Greenville says he and his fellow Democrats have felt left out of the process so far. He says they're open to any ideas, except more corporate tax breaks.

"Putting everything on the table. The tax code that will create some kind of long-term revenue stream," says Simmons, "but not just cut taxes and give away money to the rich and take away money from our residents, or to give all of our tax dollars to corporations and take away money from our citizens."

Simmons is the leader of Senate Democrats. He and his House counterpart, Representative David Baria of Bay St. Louis, co-authored a letter to Governor Bryant. At last week's Neshoba County Fair, Bryant says he has a plan to fix infrastructure that will not involve tax increases.

"I've got a plan to be able to do that without raising your taxes," Bryant says. "I know some people don't like that; they want your taxes to go up. That's not why I got elected. Now, my Democrat friends and even some of my Republicans have a good idea. They say they've got the money to take care of infrastructure, it just happens to be in your pocket."

Governor Bryant says he will call a special session to address infrastructure funding when House and Senate leaders reach a tentative agreement.