/Legislators still searching for roads solution as likely special session nears

Legislators still searching for roads solution as likely special session nears

Governor Phil Bryant hinted at the session. It would include funding state and local transportation improvements as well as divvying up funds from the 2010 BP drilling rig explosion. Phil Bryant suggested that the session would fund transportation improvements in state and local areas and divvy up funds from the 2010 BP drilling rig blast and subsequent oil leakage in the Gulf of Mexico. “Gov. “Gov. Tate Reeves is the Senate’s President. “If Gov. Bryant will call a special session, set the agenda, and the Senate will review those options. Gunn, R.Clinton, met with members from the Republican caucus in order to discuss possible proposals that could be brought up during the special session Bryant indicated he would like in mid-August. Gunn stated that the House had been diligently working to find solutions for both our infrastructure and BP. “Our hope to have solutions ready for when the governor calls special session.” Senate Democrats and House Democrats were a minority in each chamber. They held a joint meeting on transportation last week and discussed the possibility of a special session. Rep. David Baria, Bay St. Louis’ House Democratic Leader, stated that he and Derrick Simmons, his Senate counterpart, would write to the governor and legislative leaders to express their willingness to work together to find a solution. Baria stated that part of the solution to the problem should be to “postpone” the enactment the $415 million tax cuts, which were passed in 2016. This tax cut is the biggest in state history and applies to both personal income and businesses. Baria, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said that it would be absurd to give tax breaks to companies outside of state and to impose a gasoline tax on someone driving his truck to work. However, the gasoline tax is unlikely to be a topic in the special session. The 18.4 percent per gallon gasoline tax is currently the third-lowest in the country and is not supported by the legislative leadership. The primary source of funding state transportation is from the motor fuel tax. The leadership would also not support the Democrats’ plans for delaying the 2016 tax cut to be used for transportation. The likelihood is that the enactment a lottery would be the main issue in the special session. This would provide an estimated $80 million per year of revenue. Governor has stated that he would like to include a lottery with transportation revenue in the special session agenda. Lotteries are a common way for states to direct their proceeds to education. Gunn, who is opposed to the lottery as part of a special session has stated that the proposal must be submitted to the Senate. Gunn would have a hard time stopping the House from considering the proposal if it passes the Senate. Gunn was asked recently if the Senate would vote to approve the lottery. Gunn replied that he would not be able to block the House from considering the proposal. Gunn claims that studies have shown that the lottery doesn’t generate any new revenue and instead draws funds from ongoing economic activities. The 2018 session ended without any agreement about how to deal the rapidly deteriorating transportation system or how to divide up the s funds that the state received as a result of the settlement with BP following the 2010 oil rig explosion. As compensation for the loss of sales tax revenue due to the slowdown in Coast tourism activity, $700 million is expected to be paid to the state over 17 years. According to Rep. Randy Boyd (R-Mantachie), “That will not come up” if the state and Congress are not united in determining how to distribute those funds. “I doubt it comes down.” Many Coast legislators believe that those funds should be allocated to the three coast counties. Others disagree and argue that the money should go to all states since the state was compensated by BP for the loss of sales tax revenue that would have gone to the state. There are two other areas in which agreement could be reached: diverting sports betting revenue to transportation needs, and diverting some of the use tax revenue (collected via internet sales) to transport. These funds are currently used for education, healthcare, and other state agencies but not transportation. But with more than 400 local bridges closed and hundreds of state bridges limited in their capacity, legislators and the governor know that they have to come up with additional revenue for transportation.