Gov. Bryant signs final bills of 2014 legislative session

JACSON – Action on the 2014 session came to a close last week with Phil Bryant signing the more than 100 bills that fund state government and the assorted other proposal that passed during the final days of the session in early April.

Last week was the deadline for Bryant to sign, veto or allow legislation to become law without his signature.

No major piece of legislation was vetoed by the Republican.

“All in all, this has been a very productive, positive session for Mississippi,” Bryant said earlier.

Included in the bills signed during the final days by Bryant was a bill that authorizes the issuance of $191.7 million in bonds to finance various construction projects at the universities and community colleges, on state office buildings and on various local, primarily tourism and economic development-related projects.

The proposal is in addition to the $20 million approved for the upcoming three years to help with modernization efforts at the Cooper Tire manufacturing plant in Tupelo.

The package will add nearly $200 million to the state’s bonded indebtedness. But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the net result will be to lower Mississippi’s bond debt since the state is expected to retire about $230 million in bonds during the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Included in the bond bill are:

• $2.5 million for the Tammy Wynette Museum in Tremont.

• $500,000 for the William Faulkner/Union Heritage Museum in New Albany.

• $250,000 for renovations at Okolona College in Chickasaw County.

Also in the bond package, the universities will garner $92.8 million for building and renovation projects while the community colleges will receive $23 million.

The $6 billion general fund budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law in recent days by the governor is about $200 million more than what was appropriated by the 2013 Legislature.

It provides nearly $65 million to provide teachers an across-the-board $1,500 pay raise starting with the new fiscal year. The proposal still underfunds education by more than $255 million.

The budget sets aside funds to provide pay raises to state employees earning less than $30,000 who have not had a raise in four years. Plus, it gives agency directors the authority to give raises to other employees who have not had one in four years if they can find money in their budget to do it.

Daily Journal
5/1/14