County, city will get unexpected benefit
Brookhaven and Lincoln County will get some unexpected money to help pay for road work, thanks to $700 million in oil spill damages.
Gov. Phil Bryant had asked lawmakers to consider how to split the money in a special session that wrapped up Wednesday. The bulk of the funding will go to Coast counties — which is appropriate since they were impacted most by the spill. Some, however, will go toward projects in other parts of the state. Bryant is expected to sign the bill soon.
The combined $1 million for road work locally will be a welcomed gift to city and county leaders. But it strikes us as odd that funds were directed anywhere other than the Coast. Brookhaven and Lincoln County were not directly harmed by the oil spill. Neither were most of the places that will receive funds from the damages.
It would not be surprising if lawmakers bargained for the funding in their districts in exchange for support on other special session issues. It’s how the process works.
Regardless of how it gets here, aldermen and supervisors will be more than happy to find a way to use it. Infrastructure improvements are badly needed throughout the city and county, and while the $500,000 each will be a help it won’t be enough to address all the needs.
Bryant has already signed a bill that will send more funding to cities and counties for infrastructure. The Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act will divert 35 percent of the state’s tax on online and out-of-state sales to local governments and the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.
The bill also includes borrowing $300 million, with much of that going to the Dept. of Transportation.
Another bill Bryant is expected to sign is the creation of a lottery, with money from it reserved for transportation for the first 10 years.
Between the three bills, the Legislature has found ways to fund some much-needed infrastructure improvements. Considering lawmakers refused to raise the fuel tax (the most logical way to fund road work), what Mississippi got might be the best it could have hoped for.