From the ClarionLedger…

Mississippi moved one step closer to what could be the nation’s first state-sponsored civil rights museum when the Bond Commission on Monday unanimously approved the sale of $354 million in tax-exempt bonds.

The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will get $40 million together in bond funding.

“My goal is that the museums be fully operational by 2017,” said Gov. Haley Barbour, who encouraged lawmakers to pass funding for the civil rights museum.

That’s when Mississippi will celebrate its bicentennial.

Other projects benefitting from state bond funding include $1 million for the Natural Science Museum, $1.3 million for the Jackson Zoo, $15 million for the State Crime Lab (constructing a new lab in Rankin County) and $18.6 million for an Information Technology Services upgrade and millions more for Mississippi’s universities.

Bond funding for Mississippi this year totals $615 million. That figure includes $193 million for Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing. Lawmakers approved $175 million in incentives during a Sept. 2 special session to lure two technology-based companies – Calisolar and HCL CleanTech – to Mississippi.

Barbour pointed out Monday that $265 million in bond debt also has been retired this year.

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