The advantage of long-term bond financing for major projects empowers issuing entities like Mississippi to take advantage of low interest paybacks while building needed facilities and infrastructure like highways and buildings on college campuses.
Mississippi’s Legislature almost always considers a bill approving the issuance of bonds in a broad category of public needs, and it often reaches into spending that’s focused on economic development and jobs creation.
Legislative leaders in both chambers have said that they intend to hold bond spending to under $200 million. Yet the House, in various guises, already has approved bond bills totaling $431 million, and the Senate has approved one for $95.99 million, an amount equal to almost half the $200 million total Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says he wants.
However, the bills are written so that they can be amended, which allows the persuasion and policies promoting bond issues a way to work their way into the remaining month of the legislative session.
The projects passed in House bond bills so far include $46.2 million to complete the new civil rights museum and state history museum in Jackson, $55 million for improvements at the Mississippi Coliseum and Trade Mart in Jackson and $10.5 million for a parkway connecting Byram and Clinton in the Jackson area.
Not so far included is a possible $20 million bond issue for economic development in Lee County/Tupelo to help retain Cooper Tire’s 1,600 employees and production in /Northeast Mississippi. Cooper is considering a $140 million expansion in Tupelo.
The community colleges sought $167 million in bonding authority coming into the session, but would get a fraction of that under measures so far approved but not enacted.
Reeves has met with Cooper officials, as has Gov. Bryant.
We believe support for proven, major existing employers like Cooper in a bond bill is an appropriate use of state resources.
We also support additional consideration of the community colleges’ capital building needs.
Four weeks is a long time to stand hard-and-fast by proposed bond bills today, especially when the state’s economy is growing again as well as the revenue stream generated by that growth.