OUR OPINION: House vote sends bridge bill ahead

Mississippi’s accounting of bridge improvement and rehabilitation needs of bridges on state roads has totaled several hundred million dollars for many years, and the Legislature has voted this session to commit $162 million in bonds to try to deal with highest-priority work among the more than 3,050 substandard spans statewide.

The House unanimously voted late Monday to approve the conference report approved Sunday by the Senate.

The House wanted to issue $400 million in bonds to deal with the bridges, but the agreement reached over the weekend between House and Senate negotiators is for $200 million in bonds to fund the bridge projects, as Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves supported it. Reeves said a $400 million bill would exceed the state’s capacity to reasonably deal with so much bridge contracting. It’s calculated that $670 million would be needed to pay for all bridge costs, according to Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall….

….Bond bills issued at favorable rates almost always are sensible ways to deal with pressing long-term and capital needs. Now, the governor and Legislature should begin drawing legislation to add additional bonds in 2016 to further deal with the bridge issue.

Daily Journal
3/31/15