A Letter to My Constituents
The House of Representatives Roads and Bridges Plan
By Speaker of the House Philip Gunn
As your representative in District 56, I write this to you in hopes of explaining where I stand on improving Mississippi’s roads and bridges. This has been a major issue for some time and has garnered a lot of attention. I am proud to say the House championed numerous ideas over the last two sessions that would have directly addressed this growing problem.
For whatever reasons, the Senate chose not to accept our plans this year. Furthermore, I have received numerous e-mails responding to a claim that “special interests in Mississippi are pushing for as much as $375 million in new taxes.” These e-mails request that I fight those efforts.
I have stated many times before that as a conservative, I was elected to stand for lower taxes, reduce tax burdens, budget to live within our means and eliminate debt. Raising taxes is not something I support. It is misleading for organizations to claim otherwise.
However, something must be done to help our roads and bridges problem. The majority of Mississippians use our roads. It is our responsibility to care for them. The House has come forward, yet again, with new plans that we have presented to the Senate. We urge them to review our ideas and consider them as we approach Special Session.
- Local Option Fuel Tax (LOFT)—gives citizens with a local government jurisdiction, such as a county, the option to raise their own taxes by a referendum to assist with road and bridge repair/maintenance in their city/county. The Legislature is not raising your taxes. You would have the ability to do so yourself as a city/county or not.
- Gaming Sinking Fund (GSF)—proposes using $8 million from the GSF, which collects $36 million annually, to service a $100 million revenue bond issue for the purpose of road and bridge repair/maintenance in gaming counties and those adjacent counties. This option would cover approximately 66 counties.
- New Road Moratorium—unless right-of-way acquisition has occurred or construction already begun, no new roads will be constructed. Let’s maintain the roads that are currently in use.
- MDOT Removed from State Personnel Board–removes MDOT from the State Personnel Board allowing them to streamline and find additional savings to put toward roads and bridges.
We also would like the Senate to continue to think about the efforts we proposed at the end of Session this year. We have steadily made changes to these options to address their concerns.
- Revenue Growth Trigger devotes a certain percentage of growth toward roads and bridges.
- Bond Issuance proposes $50 million split between cities and counties for bridge repair and maintenance.
- Voluntary Online Sales Tax Allocation: Certain companies are already voluntarily remitting sales tax on sales they make over the internet. You read that right. The House is not trying to implement the Internet Sales Tax. Some companies are already collecting this tax from you when you make online purchases. We are just trying to capture anything already voluntarily collected over $50 million and up to $250 million and dedicate those dollars to the repair and maintenance of the state’s roads and bridges.
It is my goal to try to stay in front of issues and keep you all informed. Thank you for your support and please let me know if you have any questions.