ELECTION 2015: Mississippi gubernatorial candidates discuss transportation funding

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/23/2015

Mississippi voters will decide next month who they want in the governor’s seat for the next four years. Transportation funding is a major issue being addressed on the campaign trail by sitting Gov. Phil Bryant and challenger Robert Gray.

According to state figures, at least $400 million more annually simply to address maintenance needs for roads and bridges.

State lawmakers are expected to address road and bridge funding once the 2016 regular session begins in early January. One method of paying for maintenance and construction that is expected to be considered is a fuel tax increase.

The state’s fuel tax rate of 18.4 cents per gallon has remained unchanged since 1987.

Gray, a Democrat, is an over-the-road truck driver. The Terry, Miss., resident says the state’s roads are “outdated” and in need of expansion along some two-lane highways.

Gray added that he is opposed to increasing fuel taxes to pay for needed work. Instead, the trucker who goes by the CB handle “Silent Night” said a state lottery and borrowing are two alternatives to raise needed revenue.

Gov. Bryant, a Republican, said the state’s infrastructure is not as bad as some people are saying. He endorsed legislators’ decision this year to issue $200 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure, including bridges.

The governor added that he believes a fuel tax increase is very unlikely to gain support at the statehouse.

The two candidates are not expected to debate before the Nov. 3 election.

For more 2015 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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