Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, laid out several new initiatives Friday, one focused on infusing counties and cities with funds necessary to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.

To provide aid for local roads and bridges, Hosemann said he would consider allowing counties the power to raise the tax on their own, an initiative we support.

“What I’m going to propose is a local option use tax,” Hosemann said. “That means that every county will be able to determine whether or not they want to raise taxes on gasoline diesel or gasoline. I want to push our money back to the counties.”

Hosemann supports allowing a local option user fee on gasoline from two to six cents a gallon. The option would include the legal requirement that all money raised would go directly to the county and would be used only on repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, not equipment, new construction, salaries, or other costs.

We support this idea and believe it should be voted on at the local ballot box with a defined list of projects presented to the community prior to being placed on the ballot. The list should be based on projected collections over a defined period of time, such as five years, with all money collected only being used for those approved at the ballot box.

During the 2018 Special Session, the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act was passed and addresses some of these infrastructure concerns. The Act ensures that “an amount equal to a portion of the use tax revenue collected under the Mississippi use tax law” is distributed to municipalities to support the “repair, maintenance and reconstruction” of their roads, streets and bridges. It also provides for a portion of use tax revenue collected to be deposited into the local system bridge replacement and rehabilitation fund.

“Right now, more than 430 local bridges are closed because they are too dangerous to travel on and there are thousands of miles of local roads which are in need of caretaking,” Hosemann said. “This is an economic and public safety problem because our employees cannot get to work, our products cannot get to market, our children cannot get to school safely, and our counties need solutions.”

This initiative puts the power in the hands of the counties, and we believe the voters, where it should be, to decide what additional infrastructure resources are needed.

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