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Transportation commissioner calls for fuel tax increase to fund road construction projects

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As the upcoming 2024 legislative session quickly approaches, Central District Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons is calling for Mississippi lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at increasing the fuel tax across the state.

According to Simmons, the Magnolia State’s fuel tax has remained untouched for over three decades, leaving the transportation commission with a lack of needed funding to make improvements to Mississippi roads and bridges.

“The bulk of our resources come from an old, antiquated funding: the fuel tax. That’s the 18 cents that customers pay when they pull up to the pump,” Simmons said on The Gallo Show. “That is antiquated because it was put in place in 1989 following the 1987 highway program they put in place. It has not been increased at all since 1989. That’s a problem.”

Simmons explained that Mississippi lawmakers began discussing the possibility of increasing the fuel tax during the 2018 legislative session, which resulted in four topics being discussed after Governor Phil Bryant called for a special session to take place.

The topics included using the first $80 million in lottery funds for infrastructure improvements, the creation of diverging use tax for local municipalities and governments, a $250 million bond deal for emergency roads and bridges, and creating a permanent fund for state aid.

Simmons stated that despite the work made during the special session five years ago to provide continuous funding to the transportation commission, there are still vital projects that cannot be completed due to a lack of essential money.

“We have got to have more maintenance money and we need over $3 million for capacity projects,” Simmons said. “That means we need to have recurring money and that’s something we must talk about, whether it be fewer taxes or some other means.”

Watch the full interview with Simmons below.

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