It was rumored that Governor Phil Bryant would announce the date for a special session sometime during early August.
During his Neshoba County Fair speech the Governor said that talks were still happening but that no agreement has been made between the House and Senate on transportation dollars and until that happens he would not be making any such announcement. According to a spokesperson for the Governor the only certain item up for discussion in the event of a special session is transportation funding, beyond that it’s uncertain.
But that doesn’t mean transportation will be the only item on the agenda.
“We would like to find a solution for our infrastructure needs and BP. The House has been working diligently to find solutions to resolve both of these issues. Our hope is to have solutions ready to go if and when the Governor calls a special session,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.
“Once we are in session, if the Legislature successfully addresses the transportation infrastructure problem, I can see the Governor perhaps expanding the Call to include other important issues,” said Speaker Pro Temper Snowden. “But, I believe we’ll start with only road and bridge proposals.”
Snowden said several possibilities have been discussed but the reality is, the only reason to actually call a special session would be to address the pressing need for road and bridge infrastructure. Snowden said he had not spoken to the Governor about the potential for a specials session yet, and said he could certainly be wrong about this, as it is solely the Governor’s decision.
Sen. David Blount offered a more specific tactic if a session is called on transportation:
“The massive 2016 tax cut pushed by the Republican legislative leadership bill will cost $6.7 billion over the next twenty years. The Mississippi Economic Council estimates the cost to address our infrastructure is $6.6 billion. Repealing this reckless law would pay for our infrastructure needs with no increase in any tax above 2016 levels. The infrastructure crisis we face requires money and any discussion about money needs to revisit this law.” said Sen. David Blount
However, some feel that a special session is not the best use of state tax dollars.
“The main thing that troubles me is that the Governor has to waste tax dollars by calling a special session for what the legislators should have already done. It’s really interesting that while wasting tax payer dollars, the legislature will be deciding on raising taxes, regardless of what it is called. I believe in local control and would like to see the legislate divert 18.5% back to counties just like the cities get. That would make a huge difference for local bridges and roads,” said Representative Jay Hughes.
Hughes continued saying this is a crisis created by the legislature not doing their jobs and that tax payers shouldn’t have to pay overtime to get the job done.
“Infrastructure is far to big and and complicated to pretend to fix it in a one or two day session just for headlines to claim something was done,” said Hughes.
“It is up to Gov. Bryant to call and set the agenda for a special session. Discussions are ongoing between Gov. Bryant, Speaker Gunn and I about ways to support road maintenance.”