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House votes to halt new road construction, continue to fund repairs

Lawmakers are already making decisions on the future of Mississippi’s infrastructure.

HB 359, dealing with funding for new roads, was passed and adopted by the House. The bill states that available funds for transportation go towards fixing existing roads rather than building new ones for the time being. District 50 Rep. John Hines (D) sees the bill as the rich getting richer.

“Would it not be fair to say that the “haves” are continuing to build their areas and the “have-nots” are continuing to suffer because have not had any development from 1-55 down over to the river, so why should we support this issue when you’re not giving us any development,” Hines said.

Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House, Charles Busby (R), responded to that by stating that Hines’ concerns were misled.

“This body as a team, worked last year to remove legislative pet projects from the appropriations bill. This bill stops that from happening again. It stops from happening exactly what you witnessed happen, now if you don’t want to support that I understand. But I can tell you is the intent that you believe is in this bill is not correct, that is not the intent,” Busby said. “The intent is to make sure we are spending the dollars that are available to us to maintain our existing roads and bridges before building anything new,” Busby said.

Hines went on to say that it feels as if, some don’t want parts of the state to be built up.

“I’m not picking on this body, because we have done some things and tried to straighten the roads out and pushed some progressive things to make sure roads and bridges were taken care of,” Hines said. “My concern is that some folks have tried to make sure a certain section of this state continues to develop while a certain section does not.”

Hines voted against the bill, and Busby voted in favor of it. The final vote total was 71 for and 42 against.

Projects that have already completed early stages of planning and construction would be allowed to continue across the state.

Also enacted was a bill that authorized the issuance of state general obligation bonds which will allow the state to assist with the funding for repairs, replacement, and rehab of bridges across the state.

The bills passed in the House will be voted on by the Senate before they can move forward.

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