Bond proposals far apart

Bond proposals have passed both the Mississippi House and Senate, but that does not mean the two chambers will agree on a package to send to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.

Both House and Senate leaders said they want to hold the overall bond package to about $200 million. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said the state pays off between $200 million to $250 million of its debt each year.

The goal, leaders on both sides have said, is that they do not want to increase the state’s debt by issuing bonds to finance long-term construction projects,

“We will get it (final agreement) down to $199 million or nothing,” said House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith, R-Columbus. “We have had nothing before.”

The Senate passed one bond bill totaling $95.9 million. The bill is crafted in such a manner, though, to include other bond proposals when House and Senate leaders meet late in the session in conference committee to develop a final proposal to be voted on by the House and Senate.

The House, on the other hand, has passed multiple bond bills totaling $431 million, according to a compilation done by legislative staff.

Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves indicated he is disappointed with the size of the House bond package.

“We are a long way apart,” said Reeves, who presides over the Senate. “…Although you hate to say no to your friends, you have to sometimes if you are going to be fiscally responsible.

“I expect the Senate to do that over the next four weeks” remaining in the 2014 legislative session.

Daily Journal
3/3/14