Faced with the daunting and unprecedented reality that underfunding by the state resulted in dilapidated roads, hundreds of bridges closed for safety reasons and other dire transportation infrastructure needs, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant called a special legislative session August 23, 2018 to address and solve the state’s infrastructure crisis.
The session resulted in the passage of three significant infrastructure bills that will have ripple effects throughout Mississippi’s infrastructure industry.
What This Means for the Infrastructure Industry
The transportation infrastructure projects in Mississippi are plentiful, and the money to fund the projects will be available in the very near future.
As the legislation creates various funds, authorizing boards, processes and project lists, the ability to participate in these projects will be greatly enhanced by having a comprehensive understanding of the law, the skill to navigate the procurement processes and relationships with state and local leaders.
On August 29, 2018, the Legislature concluded the special session, which included the passage of the three significant infrastructure related bills:
- Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2018
- Alyce G. Clarke Lottery Law
- BP Settlement Allocation Bill
All three will result in major projects for roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the state. Below are some highlights of the changes brought about by each piece of legislation.
Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act – Transportation infrastructure spending of up to $300 million in bond proceeds available immediately, and an estimated $120 million annually by the end of a four-year phase-in.
- Diverts 35 percent of the 7 percent use tax for online sales to local governments and bridge repairs
- Divides up the use tax diversion: 15 percent to cities, 15 percent to counties and 5 percent to the Local System Bridge Program
- Uses revenue from legalized sports gambling
- Creates a tax on hybrid and electric cars
- Authorizes bonds of $300 million, with $250 million administered by the Mississippi Department of Transportation upon recommendation by a newly created advisory board for emergency projects, and $50 million to be spent on Legislature specified projects
Alyce G. Clarke Lottery Law – Expected to result in an estimated $60–$80 million annually toward transportation infrastructure spending.
- Allocates the first $80 million collected from the new state lottery to the State Highway Fund for 10 years
- Funds must first be used for matching federal funds authorized to the state under any federal highway infrastructure program implemented after September 1, 2018
- The lottery is expected to be operational within 18 months
BP Settlement Allocation Bill – Immediately provides $111 million toward specified infrastructure projects throughout the state.
- Creates spending plan for $750 million in BP settlement money payable to the state in installments through 2023
- Over $100 million in existing settlement funds and bond money available for 128 specified infrastructure projects throughout the state
- Of BP settlement funds received after September 1, 2018, 75 percent will go to the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund (GCRF) to be used for projects in the six southernmost counties. The GCRF will be administered by the Mississippi Development Authority
- 25 percent goes to the State BP Settlement Fund for projects throughout the state as appropriated by the Legislature