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As expected, Gov. Phil Bryant announced a special session via social media this afternoon.
“It will address infrastructure repair and maintenance and a plan to allocate BP money that prioritizes our Gulf Coast’s economy,” Bryant said on Twitter.
The governor made the call even though no agreement has been struck between House and Senate leaders, according to sources close to the negotiations.
Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and House Speaker Philip Gunn have met behind closed doors in the past few weeks to discuss how the state could offer reprieve to counties with several bridges closed. Close to 500 county-owned bridges across the state are closed, and many counties do not have the money to pay for the costly repairs to reopen them.
The hangup is over a provision that would force counties and cities to match any new state funding they receive. Reeves wants to force counties and cities receiving state funds to match those funds with their own. Gunn – who represents Hinds County, which has the most bridges closed of any county in the state – does not believe local governments should have to match state dollars.
During the regular legislative session earlier this year, the same impasse caused negotiations over infrastructure funding to break down.
“I do think counties should receive some state funding for these bridge repairs, and I feel strongly about that,” Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland and Senate Transportation chairman told Mississippi Today. “But I feel the counties themselves must have skin in the game.”
“No bill is better than a bad bill,” Gunn told Mississippi Today in March, just minutes after he killed Reeves’ infrastructure funding plan. “We believe our proposal, without the match requirement, resulted in real dollars to the cities and counties. The match idea that was proposed by the Senate, we just did not think it would result in real dollars.”
The special session will begin on August 23, and there is no limit to how long it could last.