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State House rolls out new roads, bridges funding plan

By Emily Wagster Pettus

Associated Press

JACKSON — The Mississippi House is renewing efforts to pump money into transportation to address concerns that aging roads and bridges are hurting the state economy.

Representatives voted 109-7 Thursday for a bill to borrow $50 million in bonds to pay for bridges, with half the money going to counties and half to cities.

The bill would earmark tens of millions of dollars for roads and bridges from taxes that companies voluntarily collect for internet sales. Half the money would go to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, with cities and counties receiving 25 percent each.

It also would put more money into transportation if the economy perks up and the state budget again grows at least 2 percent a year. The budget fell short of that mark this year and last.

The House put the transportation funding proposals into Senate Bill 2939 , which returns to the Senate. The two chambers are likely to try to negotiate a final agreement before the three-month legislative session ends in early April.

The state chamber of commerce, Mississippi Economic Council, has been pushing lawmakers to boost transportation spending.

“The bill brings a solution for real and needed relief to the ever-growing problem of Mississippi’s crumbling roads and bridges,” Scott Waller, chief operating officer of MEC, said during a news conference Thursday at the Capitol.