Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann called for more oversight of state spending earlier this week, especially when it comes to funding for transportation projects.
Hosemann’s comments, which happened during Tuesday’s episode of The Gallo Show, revolved around the legislature’s allocation of billions of dollars for roads, bridges, and other projects in recent years.
The Republican lawmaker would like to ensure that all the money is being used properly and in a timely fashion.
“I do want to take a little bit of a pause and make sure that money is actually hitting the streets,” Hosemann said. “I can go around Mississippi where we’ve appropriated money for roads…and the time between the vote in the Senate and the House and the times that matters get accomplished is just too long for me.”
Brad White, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), joined Wednesday’s episode of The Gallo Show to further discuss the topic.
While White said he was more than thankful for Hosemann and other lawmakers’ willingness to fund the agency – especially with this year’s influx of $620 million in supplemental funds for projects such as adding lanes or building new roadways – no projects are currently behind schedule.
“MDOT is not behind schedule with our capacity program, and we can show that,” White said. “And I’m happy to appear before any committee and give a full account of where we are and what we’re doing.”
Mississippi’s capacity program had been dormant for over a decade due to a lack of funding prior to the 2022 legislative session when lawmakers began appropriating funds for the program to implement new projects.
“All the money that MDOT was receiving by and large was being placed into the paving and rehabilitation and maintenance of our existing system, which was about a $65 billion asset,” White stated. “We weren’t building new products for the most part.”
White added that while he does not want to speak for Hosemann, his impression is that the lieutenant governor is not so much for oversight as he is for more accountability — something White agrees is a necessity.
“I think the commission, me as the director, and our staff should be held accountable to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to hit the metrics that’s been placed out before us and get the money to the roads as efficiently and effectively as we can,” White said.
White also clarified that one of his agency’s main responsibilities is to implement a federal road construction program and with it comes strict and sometimes slow regulations.
“There was a separate bill that gave us one-time money that helped supplement and was in addition to our normal federal program,” White explained. “As we spend this money, it comes along with federal rules, regulations, and requirements that must be met in order to ensure that we’re delivering a safe and well-constructed product to the taxpayer.”
MDOT is currently working on the following projects throughout the state:
- US 49 in Harrison County
- SR 15 in Tippah County
- SR 2 in Tippah County
- SR 19 in Neshoba County
- I-20 in Warren County (Flowers Interchange)
- US 90 in Jackson County