Pre-Legislative Briefing

The 2017 legislative session begins in one month. This session is one that is sure to be pivotal considering over $100 million in BP settlement funds is up for grabs in the state’s general fund. Coast lawmakers are ready to battle for these funds and other issues important to our area.
News 25’s Katarina Luketich reports from today’s pre-legislative briefing.
As we look toward the 2017 legislative session, the biggest item on the agenda is how the state’s lawmakers will allocate nearly $110 million in BP oil spill settlement money. Governor Phil Bryant and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves have made it clear that they believe the money should stay in South Mississippi where most of the damage occurred.
Our coastal delegation is tasked with getting lawmakers from across the state on board. In a numbers game, the Coast is in the minority. However, local lawmakers say they’re hearing more and more from their colleagues up north that the money should be spent on the Coast. District 49 State Senator Sean Tindell said, “People understand how important it is for that money to come down here. The fact is we’re an economic engine for the state. If you keep our engine fully gassed, it’s going to create more revenue for the rest of the state.”
Speaking of keeping tanks gassed, talk of a possible gas tax increase to support infrastructure across the state is expected to come up at the capitol. Lawmakers News 25 spoke with say they don’t think a tax hike is necessary. District 51 State Senator Michael Watson said, “We’ve got other mechanisms we could use, other state dollars that we could use. For example, the bond bills that passed, those bond bills should be used for infrastructure and transportation, things that really impact the state that the government should be providing.”
Another topic driving the 2017 session will be public education. State lawmakers await recommendations from private firm EdBuild as to how the MAEP school funding formula could be restructured to best serve Mississippi students. Lawmakers say their recommendations will be used as another tool in the tool belt to rectify school funding problems. District 117 State Representative Scott Delano said, “The reason they were hired was to provide us some tangible actions we can take to help improve educational opportunities and attainment here in Mississippi.”
Education, BP money, and taxes are just a few of the topics sure to lead discussions when the session opens on January 3rd.

Categories: Mississippi State News, News

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