House demands more roads funding

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The House took a stand against the Senate Monday on the issue of transportation funding.

UPDATE: Dispute forces special session on transportation 

The chamber voted almost unanimously to send House Bill 1509 and Senate Bill 2978, two bills that fund the Mississippi Department of Transportation, back for more negotiation between House and Senate committee members.

Mississippi House of Represenatives

Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula

“There’s a lot of give and take in politics, and some people seem more intent on always taking and never doing much giving,” said Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula.

The move comes after a bond bill that would have provided millions for construction at colleges, community colleges and of roads and bridges died over the weekend.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the bond package, which the House proposed, would have put the state in too much debt.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said the House version addressed all Senate concerns and House members were never given adequate policy reasons as to why the House version wouldn’t work.

Gil Ford Photography

Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez

“There is money that needs to be renegotiated that has been taken out that needs to be put back in the bill,” said Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, a former chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “If you don’t stand up now, if you don’t stand for something, you will have nothing.”

The motion to recommit HB 1509, which makes appropriations for MDOT, passed unanimously.

Rep. Joel Bomgar, R-Madison, was the only no vote on the motion to recommit SB 2978, which contains funding for MDOT’s Office of State Aid Road Construction.

The two transportation appropriations bills were the only two sent back for more negotiations Monday morning — many attempts on other bills were voted down.

Reeves spokeswoman Laura Hipp said the lieutenant governor would respond to the House’s action later in the day.