Steve Wilson is the investigative editor at Mississippi Matters. He appears weekly on Wednesday mornings on WMXI 98.1 FM's Pine Belt Daybreak program in Hattiesburg with Michael Pol and Ted Tibbett to talk about his work and Mississippi politics.
On October 3, Wilson discussed Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's announcement that the Democrat will run for governor in 2019 and the Opportunity Zone program created by The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
To use the Opportunity Zone tax break, investors will have to provide capital for impoverished areas that were nominated by the state government and approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury as opportunity zones. There are 100 of these in Mississippi, according to the latest list released by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Wilson talked on October 10 about the state's increasing appropriations for debt service and the Mississippi Tourism Rebate program, which can help fund tourism attractions such as hotels, water parks convention centers, golf courses and even motor speedways.
According to an examination of data by Mississippi Matters, appropriations for debt service by the Mississippi Legislature have increased 33 percent since 2009.
In fiscal 2009, lawmakers appropriated more than $289 million to pay for service on the state's debt. For fiscal 2019, lawmakers appropriated $385 million this past session.
As of October 3, more than $50 million had been paid out by the Mississippi Tourism Rebate. The program allows a proportion of the sales tax revenue generated by a project to be paid to developers for construction costs for 15 years, subject to the approval of the Mississippi Development Authority.