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AFP's Russ Latino: Infrastructure debate is 2 roads diverged

For two years, special interests in Jackson have quietly pushed for $375 million a year in tax increases for infrastructure. Publicly, proponents have chosen to focus generically on road condition instead of being open about their intentions to increase taxes.

Most have also ignored a central point to the infrastructure debate: Mississippi has two distinct road systems, those that are state-controlled and those that are locally controlled. The two systems have equally distinct funding and condition circumstances. This is significant, since under the primary plan floated, the lion’s share of new taxes ($300 million annually) would go to state-controlled roads. Local systems would take the crumbs....

...Notably, Mississippi’s entire bridge inventory has improved. Context is key. In 1995, there was a total of 5,415 structurally deficient bridges in Mississippi. In the 20 years that followed, Mississippi experienced a 60 percent decline in structurally deficient bridges.

If we’re going to consider increasing the burden on taxpayers, we should have an honest debate. Those pushing tax increases should stop hiding what they are really seeking. Let’s cut out the emotional rhetoric and deal in whole truths. We can start by acknowledging two very different road systems and by trying to craft solutions that address actual need while protecting taxpayers.

Clarion Ledger

Posted March 27, 2017 - 7:52 am

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