Legislative impasse delays water and sewer funding needs for Jackson

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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – As crews work to complete a transmission line that will eventually stretch south from Jackson, the faucet of federal stimulus money that funded this venture has been turned off by state lawmakers demanding a legislator’s quest for the elimination of the income tax.

At least $40 million is believed to have been earmarked for the capital, state Rep. Shanda Yates told 3 On Your Side in February.

“All of that is a moving target right now. We haven’t finalized how we plan to deploy the infrastructure money at this time,” State Sen. John Horhn said. “There are ways to develop a plan for the deployment of funds. The question that remains is how are we going to get out of this impasse that we have between the House and the Senate to do something? »

This standoff, Horhn said, is due to House Speaker Philip Gunn relentlessly pushing to end the state income tax and, in Horhn’s words, withhold $1.8 billion. of federal funds held hostage until lawmakers make the president’s bid.

“It’s unfortunate that people who need infrastructure, who need water, who need sewage, who need roads are being victimized and, in a way, held hostage while this struggle continues over reform. tax that only one person in the state of Mississippi really seems to want to push,” Horhn said. “And that’s the President. I think that’s bad policy. That’s not a sign of a great leadership.

House Bill 1031 would have provided a fund for major projects in Jackson.

Earlier this month, senators removed that language entirely from the bill without any funding guarantees for the city and replaced the language with language that would establish a water quality commission.

Now time is running out to see if this can be resolved and passed before the end of the session.

“There is one week left in the session. These bills are still alive; we still have a chance. And all of us who have represented the Jackson and Byram area continue to push as hard as we can. We are not dead yet. But we’ll never have that kind of money again,” State Sen. David Blount said.

3 On Your Side explained what Jackson needed in a three-part series on the water crisis last February.

If lawmakers don’t give any of the nearly $2 billion in federal money to the capital, that leaves leaders here with just $97 million obligated to meet the costs of overhauling the city’s water and sewage systems. over $1.7 billion.

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