This legislation, which would allow the state to divert funds from the state to local governments to fund their infrastructure needs, is currently being passed by the special session. Bryant proposed that the state create a lottery, and that for the next ten years the revenues from that lottery be used to address transportation issues on state highways and bridges. Representative Willie Perkins (D-Greenwood) said, during Friday’s debate, that he supports the lottery but couldn’t vote for it if it didn’t benefit education. The revenue from most lottery states, although not all, is used for education, often to fund college scholarships. Arizona is one example of a state that allocates at least some lottery revenue for transportation. A recent Mississippi Today poll found overwhelming support for the allocation of lottery revenue to education. The cumulative vote total of both chambers for the diversion bill was 159-8, as the debate continues about whether education should be benefited if Mississippi becomes 45th state to adopt a lottery. Both chambers have passed the bills, though in different forms. The two chambers will attempt to resolve their differences starting Monday on the diversion and lottery bills. The bill would shift 35 percent of the state’s use tax, which is one of its fastest-growing sources of revenue, from state services to local and county governments in order to support their infrastructure needs. Mississippians pay a 7.5% tax on all retail purchases made outside of the state, including those made online or via catalogs. “What we’re doing is taking money from the general fund to send cities and counties infrastructure funds,” stated Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory), one of few legislators to express concern over the effect on state services due to the diversion. “First of all, we don’t have the money in the general funds to do that.” Education is disproportionately affected by any hit to the general funding. Although there are many state funds that can be used to pay money to different agencies, the overall fund at $5.6 billion is the largest. The current fiscal year will see 53 percent of general fund revenue go to education, from kindergarten through university. The majority of this 53 percent, or well over half, goes to schools in kindergarten-12th grades. If the use tax diversion is fully implemented, which it will, in four years, if passed in full, it will require an estimated $120million from the general fund, or more than 2% of total general fund revenues. This number is expected to increase as internet sales continue to grow. However, some people expect the revenue from the sales tax (7%) to slow down which will further impact the state’s general fund. The general fund has seen significant changes in the seven sessions that Republicans have controlled the governor’s mansion as well as both chambers and the Legislature. In the four first years, more than 50 tax cuts were passed which took $300 million from the general fund. In 2016, the state passed the largest tax cut ever, aimed at both corporations and individuals. This tax cut will result in $415 million today in dollars from the general fund over a period of 10 years. According to the Republican state leadership, tax cuts will benefit the state’s long-term economy. Republican leaders also believe the state will be able to absorb the tax diversion’s additional impact. They noted that the state had a surplus in its general fund for the fiscal year just past. In recent years, however, the Legislature made numerous cuts to many agencies. This included more than 10% for some agencies in an attempt to offset the slowdown of general fund revenue. According to the Parents Campaign, education has been underfunded by $2.3 billion since 2009 and $239.9 millions for the current fiscal year. Gunn stated that the state is financially sound. “If we had 2 percent to cut, we could probably do so, by pure cutting, and a lot would prefer that.” This is a good thing. Gunn said that we could also cover it with growth. “…But it is not a waste to spend it on roads.” of the diversion. Reeves stated that he was optimistic about revenue. “And because it is $130 million in the fiscal year 19, I am optimistic about revenue. I also agree to this because it makes long-term sense. However, if you spend money that would otherwise have been in general fund for cities for counties no by definition, less money will be available in our (future!) years for other areas. Bryan stated in a recent commentary that “the state is broke.” Tax collections barely keep up with inflation at the height of the economic cycle. Our public schools are not being funded, in violation of state law. Our community colleges and universities are being underfunded in violation of common sense. Our state agencies are not given the necessary staffing to function properly, and they are then punished for their inability to perform at a superhuman level. Our highways are being damaged, in violation of the common good. “While the legislature has been giving out tax credits and tax reductions worth billions of dollars, They have given tax credits to shopping centers developers, to insurance companies and natural gas storage companies. Multistate corporations have received huge tax cuts. They have even reduced taxes on whiskey.” He claims that the $750 million in state funds resulting from the settlement of the 2010 BP Oil Spill could be used to fund infrastructure projects within cities and counties. The BP funds could be used to provide immediate relief for local governments. The state could issue bunds, which are incur debt, to immediately receive money and then pay it off with the BP settlement funds.