By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – The state’s eight public universities received during the just-completed 2014 legislative session their second year of a three-year commitment of bonds to finance long-term construction projects.
The Legislature approved bonds for the schools totaling $92.8 million.
During the 2013 session, the Legislature approved $96.5 million in bonds for the universities.
Under the 2013 commitment agreement, the universities are slated to receive $68.6 million in bonds in 2015.
University leaders have said they like the three-year commitment because it allows them to better plan for the long-term capital needs without the yearly doubt of how much they would receive in bonds from the Legislature.
In 2012, legislative leaders could not agree on the size of the bond bill, resulting in one not being enacted.
“The projects funded through the bond bill are very important to Mississippi public universities,” said Hank M. Bounds, commissioner of higher education.
“The Legislature is to be commended for providing the resources for the second year of a three-year plan. The resources will be used to build and renovate learning and student support facilities that will help provide students with the classroom and extracurricular experiences necessary to graduate and begin building successful careers.”
The bond bill includes $7 million for continued repair and renovation of Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University and $400,00 for the preplanning of the new Department of Animal and Dairy and Poultry Science at Mississippi State.
At the University of Mississippi, $14 million in bonds will be provided for the repair and renovations of Garland, Hedleston and Mayes Halls – all residence halls.
Plus, $30.5 million is provided for phase two of the new School of Medicine classroom building on the Jackson campus.
Bounds, said, “Of particular importance to all Mississippians is the continued funding for the new medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which will enable us to expand the medical school and train more physicians to serve Mississippi families.”
Bonds going to the other universities consist of:
• $9 million for Alcorn State.
• $14.5 million for Delta State University.
• $3 million for Jackson State.
• $4.9 million for Mississippi University for Women.
• $4.5 million for Mississippi Valley State University.
• $5 million for the University of Southern Mississippi.
The bond bill package, totaling $241.7 million, including funds for state buildings, community colleges, economic development projects and local projects, is pending Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature. He must decide whether to sign or veto the bond bills by late next week.