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BRIDGE Infrastructure bill passes House, heads to joint committee

Photo courtesy Telesouth Communications Inc.

By a vote of 103-6, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a version of the Building Roads, Improving Development and Growing the Economy Act (BRIDGE) that was passed by the Senate earlier in the session.

“Our plan uses real money, without growth triggers, to address this pressing issue faced over the entire state,” said Speaker Gunn. “As we have said before, our legislation is one of the best things we’ve done for local government.

Enactment of the measure would dedicate a new annual income stream to cities and counties for road and bridge maintenance. A new diversion of state use-tax collections will direct funds back to the cities and the counties to be used for road and bridge maintenance. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn said that it would be a redirection of existing dollars.

“I appreciate the House for keeping the $1 billion BRIDGE Act, a comprehensive plan to address both state and local infrastructure needs, moving through the legislative process,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “The Senate looks forward to continuing talks to address our critical needs.”

Local Benefits

Use-tax is gathered from sales tax collected on any out-of-state purchases, including those made online. Approximately $310 million was collected last year. The new diversion will divert 35 percent of use tax collections, which is approximately $108 million by today’s estimates, to cities and counties for road and bridge repair.

Five percent of all use tax collections (approximately $15.5 million by today’s estimates) will permanently fund the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.

“We want to put money back into the hands of the local people,” said Speaker Gunn. “This increases the diversions back to cities and counties, which is something our mayors and supervisors have been requesting for years.”

Statewide Benefits

The House maintained what the Senate deemed, the Strategic Infrastructure Investment Fund (SIIF). However, in the House version, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will administer the funds in this separate account on projects throughout the State.

The SIIF is comprised of one percent of the Rainy Day Fund, car tag monies and revenue bonded Gaming Sinking Fund dollars. This money exists separately from MDOT’s annual appropriations.

In addition to the SIIF, the House legislation also authorizes $100 million in general obligation bonds for projects over the entire state.

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