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Funding transportation improvements is Top Priority for Spec

Funding transportation improvements is Top Priority for Special Session
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AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

State lawmakers are heading back to the Capitol today to settle on a plan they hope will meet Mississippi's infrastructure needs. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

The two-day special session called by Governor Phil Bryant is focusing on one major issue: roads and bridges. Bryant supports a plan called the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act. It will use funds from Internet sales taxes, sports betting, electric and hybrid vehicle user fees and a state lottery to improve transportation. Bryant said in a Facebook post this week, the plan could yield $200 million dollars annually.

Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn says he is opposed to a state lottery.

"Study after study shows that it is a tax. It is a regressive tax. It falls primarily on the poor and you're going to hurt a lot of people by doing this," said Gunn.

Gunn says he supports a house plan that instead will use funds from other existing taxes. He says his plan could generate $120 to $130 million dollars annually.

Senator Deborah Dawkins is a Democrat from Harrison County. She says she is eager to find a solution for the state's ailing roads and bridges but she wishes some of the funds would go to education.

"I'm you know going to support any effort to create a lottery. If part of getting it is putting the money in roads and bridges I guess I'd be okay with that," said Dawkins.

The legislative session will begin today and is expected to last through Friday. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.