JACKSON – Even though the 2017 legislative session ended with no bond bill to finance long-term construction work during the next fiscal year, some bonds still are scheduled to be issued for building projects on university campuses.
In the 2016 session, the Legislature took the unusual step of issuing two years of bond projects for the institutions of higher learning.
Legislation in the 2016 session had $61.8 million in bonds for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2016, and $33.5 million for the upcoming fiscal year that begins this July 1.
Most sessions, the Legislature approves a bill to authorize the sale of bonds to finance long-term construction projects. The projects are generally on university and community colleges campuses, for state buildings, for economic development projects and for local tourism attractions.
But during the 2017 session, which ended in late March, no such bond bill was passed because of disputes between the House and Senate leadership.
The Legislature is slated to come back in special session on June 5 to finish budget work that also got caught up in disputes between Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate.
Bill Stone, D-Holly Springs, the Senate minority leader, is among multiple lawmakers urging Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to include bonds in the agenda for the June 5 special session.
“I would like to see that (bonds on the agenda) especially for county roads and bridges,” Stone said recently.
Bryant has indicated that he is considering several items that he might include for the special session, but he has not revealed any definitive items other than the budget issues.
If the governor does not expand the agenda to include bonds, the only ones that will be authorized to be issued during the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, are for the university projects that were approved during the 2016 session.
The bond projects that were approved during the 2016 session to be issued during the upcoming fiscal year include:
- $4 million for phase II work on the Mississippi State University music building.
- $12 million for phase II work on a building for the Department of Animal and Dairy Science and Poultry Science at Mississippi State University.
- $15 million for new a science building at the University of Mississippi.
IHL officials were requesting an an additional $47.4 million in bonds during the 2017 session.
That bond proposal would have included:During the 2017 session, the House and Senate leaders were at loggerheads over the size of the bond authorization. The House was proposing about $190 million, while the Senate wanted the proposal to be closer to $150 million.
Besides bonds for university projects, the bill was expected to include $25 million for the 15 community colleges and bonds for transportation needs.
Reeves has indicated he would prefer not to include bonds in the June 5 special session.
During the 2016 session, the Legislature authorized an unusually large number of bonds – $308 million – not including the $33.5 million in university bonds that are slated to be issued during the upcoming fiscal year and about $270 million for economic development projects, primarily the Continental Tire plant slated to be built near Jackson.