Governor Tate Reeves today announced the signing of multiple pieces of legislation, appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars for major infrastructure improvements across the state. The investments include road and bridge repairs, drinking water improvements, and more.
Governor Reeves also discussed a range of line-item vetoes that he had made concerning spending earmarks that he had deemed irresponsible uses of taxpayer dollars.
“We’re strengthening our roads, bolstering our bridges, and increasing access to clean drinking water,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “These investments will not only help us pave roads but pave the pathway to economic prosperity. By building better roads and constructing stronger bridges we give Mississippians the tools necessary to run their businesses, provide for their families, and get to work safely.”
The discussed legislation included:
HB1630, Mississippi Department of Transportation Appropriation
- $1.426 billion appropriation for MDOT.
- $45 million for maintenance program.
- $35 million for capacity program which provides for new construction of major projects needed to add efficiency to system.
- $40 million needed for a federal match that will go towards street projects.
- $100 million for the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Program, which focuses entirely on local roads and bridges.
- Legislative authority to make salary adjustments for staff, greater flexibility to invest budget into team.
SB2822, Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program Act of 2022
- Makes $450 million available for grant program.
- $400 million in one-to-one match grant, $50 million in additional grants to small municipalities.
- Authorizes multiple rounds of water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grant projects.
HB1538/HB1421, ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Program & Appropriation
- Invests $300 million into the program.
- Money will assist rural water associations in the construction of eligible drinking water infrastructure projects.
Government should be in the business of attempting to steward taxpayer money responsibly to projects of great importance.
Over the course of the review process, Governor Reeves determined that there were a range of earmarked expenditures that were less appropriate ways of expending money.
- $1 million to build a parking lot at the Jackson Convention Center.
- $1 million to the Scenic River Development for their golf course.
- $250,000 to Briarwood Pool.
- $2 million for the City of Jackson Planetarium.
- $500,000 to the City of Greenville for green space next to the Federal Courthouse.
- $13.25 million for, among other things, a golf park and trail at LeFleur’s Bluff.
- $1 million to the City of Pascagoula to assist with renovations of city offices.
- $50,000 to Arise and Shine, Inc. in Copiah County.
- $200,000 to Summit Community Development Foundation for costs associated with the Stand Pipe project.
- $7.5 million in earmarks that would be distributed to private companies through the Mississippi Development Authority without the normal financial/economic impact analysis.
In a Facebook post, Governor Reeves explained his veto decisions.
“We vetoed $14 million in golf course spending. I’ve been trying for a long time to get the state out of the golf course business. One of these projects was for a golf course that we already gave to another entity. The other was to revive a closed golf course in Jackson that is surrounded by three other publicly accessible golf courses within five miles. It’s just not a good investment when we have so many other critical needs.
We vetoed $2 million of state taxpayer money for the defunct planetarium. The Jackson city council actually made a similar decision recently. I think the reason is simple. Jackson needs investment in safety. We need more police, not planetarium spending that has already proven to be wasteful. When we get that fully funded, we can consider luxury items.
I vetoed some spending that is simply not state taxpayers’ responsibility: a privately-owned pool, green space around a federal courthouse, city office upgrades, and a parking lot for a convention center that the state gave up long ago in order to end a losing investment. We gave it up for this express reason: to avoid putting you on the hook for these types of expenses. I also vetoed some money that would have gone to private interests that are better served in existing state programs that have accountability and oversight—not earmarks.
Want to make sure you know why we make these decisions! It always makes people, even my friends, angry when we can’t spend on everything they want. But it’s important to be responsible with the money because it doesn’t belong to politicians—it is yours.”