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Legislators Return to Capitol Today to Hammer Out State Agency Budgets
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Mississippi State Capitol
Desare Frazier

The gavel strikes at 10 this morning for the start of the special session at the capitol. Three state agency budgets have to be approved before June 30.

Starting today, lawmakers will take-up finalizing budgets for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Attorney General's Office and the Office of State Aid Road Construction. The house and senate were at an impasse during the regular legislative session, over MDOT's budget. At issue was a house plan to use voluntarily paid internet sales tax to fund roads and bridges. House Republican Chris Johnson of Hattiesburg.

"I hope that we can wade through any political issues we have and get the state agencies funded," said Johnson.

Earmarking some funding for infrastructure upgrades is a concern for House Democrat Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst.

"They have become in very bad disrepair. So they need to be repaired right away because there's a potential danger in traveling on bad roads and bridges," said Holloway.

No controversy expected in appropriating funds for The Office of State Aid Road Construction which works with MDOT. The agency administers programs to help with road and bridge repairs. They require a separate budget. Attorney General Jim Hood expressed concerns about funding for his agency. He wants to ensure initiatives such as the Law Enforcement and Firefighter Disability program are funded. Republican Senator Pro Tempore Terry Burton of Newton.

"I'm sure that good minds can work on both the house side and senate side to try to answer any concerns that he has," said Burton.

Lawmakers will also vote on The Fortify Act, Governor's Phil Bryant's plan to improve the state's credit rating worthiness. It includes creating a multi-year financial plan and raising the state Rainy Day Fund cap from 7.5 percent to 10 percent.