/Gov Tate Reeves blocks state funding for Jackson projects

Gov Tate Reeves blocks state funding for Jackson projects

Reeves thanked the hundreds of millions of dollars that legislators have directed to road and bridge construction, water and sewerage projects and road and bridge repairs. He stated that they will have a lasting impact on society. He said that spending on “golf course, private pool… city office buildings” and $7.5million earmarked for three companies without the state’s incentive vetting process was untenable, and “bad expenditures were bad expenditures.” He also criticised the state for not spending more money on Jackson’s infrastructure. Reeves stated that the state was willing match Jackson’s spending on water and sewer infrastructure, and criticised the city for only contributing $25 million of $42 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Reeves stated that he was disappointed by the way Jackson and Hinds County spent ARPA funds. Jackson has received $25 million from the state, but that is due to the fact that it only contributed $25 million to match. This $13.25million was for an ambitious LeFleur’s Bluff State Park Upgrade. It would create a park, 10-hole course, biking and walking trails to connect various museums in the region, including the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Sports Hall of Fame and Natural Science Museum. Reeves stated that he supported the majority of the project and would continue to work on it in the future. However, he was against the idea of developing a golf course as part the project. Reeves stated that there are already public golf courses in the area and that the LeFleur’s Bluff State Park golf course and other courses had failed. He stated that while there are many aspects of the project that I support, the reopening a golf course is something I cannot. Reeves didn’t rule out putting the project on the agenda of any special session that he calls later in the year to discuss another issue. The governor is able to set the agenda for special sessions. However, in the past legislative leaders have vetoed special sessions even though they were not on the governor’s agenda. The Legislature would also have the option of approving the vetoes at session’s beginning in 2023. To override a vote of veto, it takes a majority of both chambers. Many of the items that the governor vetoed were items within the city limits of Jackson. Jackson vetoed the LeFleur’s Bluff Project as well. Reeves stated that the planetarium was currently closed and questioned whether an additional $2million would be sufficient to sustain the project. David Lewis, Jackson’s deputy commissioner for cultural affairs, stated that the governor’s decision to veto funding for the Planetarium at $2 million was shocking and disconcerting. We hope to establish a dialogue with the governor’s staff to discuss our options. The Planetarium project brings a loved facility back to life and allows Mississippians to see, learn and be inspired. We are confident that our project will incorporate STEM learning principles into our exhibits. It will also boost our growing tourism product by drawing national visitors and strengthen the redevelopment of the Capital city’s downtown fabric. Reeves also vetoed: Reeves claimed that the Legislature did not follow the normal procedure of applying for funds with the Mississippi Development Authority for expansion projects and being vetted. These vetoed items are part of a huge bill totaling $223 million that covers projects across the state. Reeves stated that he approved nearly 90% of projects that involved infrastructure improvements and items that improve the quality of living. Numerous county courthouses were awarded funds to renovate, as well as various museums and other projects across the state. Reeves stated that he did not want to emphasize the vetoed issues, but the legislation that was passed into law and made a significant impact on the state’s infrastructure. Reeves stated that “we’re strengthening our roads and bolstering our infrastructures, as well as increasing access to clean water.” These investments will not only pave the way to economic prosperity but also pave the way for us to pave roads. Mississippians can build better roads and construct stronger bridges to help them run their businesses, provide for family members, and get to work safely. The governor also highlighted the federal funds the state received to fight COVID-19, which was used to fund water and sewer projects across the state. The governor also praised legislation that he signed, which provided $1.43 billion to the Department of Transportation, its largest ever appropriation. Reeves stated that the funds could be used in part to draw down federal funds from the infrastructure package, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden. Reeves opposed spending he called “wasteful”, but he stated that he signed the law allowing state elected officials to get a pay increase. After the 2023 elections, the pay increase will take effect in 2024. Reeves stated that he approved the raise due to another state law that prohibits elected officials’ employees from earning more than the highest paid elected official. Reeves stated that this makes it more difficult for government officials to hire competent staff for certain positions such as financial advisors or staff attorneys in the treasurer’s office. Reeves stated that he will donate the money he has earned to charity if elected in 2023.