U.S. Transportation Secretary Warns Of Threat To Mississippi If Highway Funds Dry Up
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Federal officials are warning that road and bridge work in Mississippi could screech to a halt if the Transportation trust runs out of money.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Republicans and Democrats are offering differing plans to keep the fund full.
Currently the fund is expected to run out of cash toward the end of the summer. 
That could spell bad news for work on roads and bridges in the state according to U-S transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
"It means less money than you already have for transportation. It means that despite all the needs that are here in Mississippi. The bridges that need to get repaired. The roads that need to be expanded to allow for the heavy agricultural equpiment. Those projects aren't going to get done because the federal government is not going to be in a position to help," Foxx said.
Foxx stopped in Jackson yesterday as part of 8 state bus tour pushing President Barack Obama's plan to add 300-billion to the fund over four years by closing what he considers loopholes in the corporate tax code. 
Second district Congressman Bennie Thompson joined Foxx in calling for the fund to be maintained.
"As you know, Mississippi is one of those states that for every dollar we send to Washington, we get three dollars back. Any time there is a possibility that programs will be cut, that means that we are in serious trouble as a state," Thompson said.
The gas tax that funds the trust fund has not been raised since the 90's prompting congress to have to periodically dedicate general fund money to it, which is likely to happen again this year. 
The Republican chair of the house ways and means committee has also proposed a plan to add 126-billion to the trust fund over eight years.
That plan is part of a much larger rewrite of corporate tax law that would likely be difficult to pass in an election year.
Both parties acknowledge the importance of the fund.
Republican congressman Greg Harper of Mississippi's third district said in a statement that it is clear the current system is inadequate to meet current needs and that the federal government will have to be creative to find a new revenue stream to fill the trust fund.