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Possible $200 million infrastructure deal is on tap for Thursday's special session

BUILD IT: The state could redirect $200 million in various revenue to help improve the state's infrastructure. Photo by the Mississippi Department of Transportation

The state could increase its infrastructure spending by $200 million by tapping into use tax revenues, money from sports gaming and the creation of a state lottery if approved by the Legislature.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed a proclamation Tuesday that will call the Legislature into special session Thursday.

The agenda item will be two bills: One that would create a state lottery and the other called the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act that would redirect some of the use tax revenue collected by the state to cities and counties for roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements.

A similar proposal, House Bill 722, was passed the House unanimously, but died in the Senate Finance Committee without getting a floor vote.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, use tax revenues amounted to more than $337 million and the proposal would give about $50.6 million to cities and $50.6 million to counties, with the rest going to the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program fund.

For Mississippi's 82 counties, that would add up to $617,986 apiece.

One thing that's not part of the equation is an increase to the state's gasoline tax. Drivers pay 37.19 cents in state and federal taxes on every gallon of gasoline, about 11 cents a gallon less than the national average. The state’s gas tax was last increased in 1987.

The federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993.

The governor's proclamation does have one tax increase that mirrors an large infrastructure package that passed the Senate and failed in the House. The BRIDGE Act would've added a levy of $150 annually on owners of electric vehicles in addition to registration fees, with hybrid vehicle owners assessed $75 annually.

The lottery would be set up as a corporation, with its directors appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The proceeds from the lottery would be directed to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Speaking of gambling, the governor's proclamation also mentioned that sports wagering would also provide revenue for MDOT.

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