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House Transportation Committee chair weighs in on infrastructure legislation

Mississippi Highway
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Transportation

As the 2023 Mississippi legislative session begins to wind down, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are looking to improve the state’s infrastructure following a request from Governor Tate Reeves for $1.3 billion to fund transportation projects for the state’s roads and bridges.

Senate Bill 3120, authored by Senator Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, was drafted to grant a total appropriation of $620 million to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) for infrastructure projects. After passing the Senate, the bill was amended in the House, which granted additional appropriation funding, totaling $800 million for the department’s three-year plan.

The amended version of the bill passed the House after Reeves’ announcement of over $1 billion in funding for statewide infrastructure and site development projects.

During an interview on MidDays with Gerard Gibert, Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula, said he is hopeful that the House’s version of the legislation will pass because there are no earmarks, or money allocated for one specific project within the entire plan, in the updated bill.

Busby, who is running for Southern District Transportation Commissioner, would prefer for every dollar granted to MDOT’s plan to be put to use. Earmarks would open the door for money to be leftover for overfunded projects. The unspent earmarked funds would not be eligible to be allocated elsewhere since they were specifically designed for one purpose.

“Everybody here is looking at the same list of projects. Nobody is wanting to add to that list or subtract from that list. We are looking at the top projects in the MDOT three-year plan and those projects are shovel-ready,” Busby said.

SB 3120 currently sits in conference where it will be further debated and restructured.

Watch the full interview with Rep. Busby below.

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