/Christmas tree’ Lawmakers OK borrowing $291 million for state projects

Christmas tree’ Lawmakers OK borrowing $291 million for state projects

The state’s bond debt is increased to $4.2 billion by the borrowing during a budget year that was slashed by the coronavirus pandemic and economic slump. This amounts to approximately $1,400 per citizen. The annual “bond bill”, also known as the “Christmas tree bill”, is a way for lawmakers to jockey for projects in their own districts. Briggs Hopson III (R-Vicksburg), Senate Appropriations chairman, stated that the Senate received more than $700,000,000 in requests this year. Trey Lamar (R-Senatobia), House Ways and Means Chair, stated that the state had paid off approximately $285 million of its debts in the past budget year. Legislators have attempted to keep the main bond legislation within the retirement range in recent years. Senator Melanie Sojourner (R-Natchez), one of a few lawmakers who voted against major borrowing bills, pointed out that the state’s debts have risen. Sojourner stated that the state’s total bonded debt has increased by $1.47billion over the past 10 years. “Are you going to reverse this trend?” Sojourner said.