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In 2018, Mississippi legislators voted to create a state lottery to generate funding for infrastructure. Since its launch in November of 2019, the lottery collected close to $16 million dollars with $8.4 million earned in the month of January alone. While this funding was a step in the right direction, the lottery is expected to raise just $800 million over 10 years in total. While $800 million may sound like a large number, it is just a drop in the bucket. A 2015 Mississippi Economic Council study explained that the Mississippi Department of Transportation needs at least $375 million per year for 10 years to fix the worst of the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. That brings the total amount actually needed to a staggering $6 billion.
To truly solve the problem of Mississippi’s crumbling roads and bridges, we need a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism. Fellow conservative Southeastern states like Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama have all passed increases in their gas taxes — something Mississippi hasn’t done since 1987. All of the states mentioned above had GDP growth of 2% or higher in 2018 while Mississippi only saw 1% growth.
Investing in infrastructure through moderate increases in the motor fuel tax is showing sizable returns throughout the Southeast. It’s time Mississippi made similar long term investments in its infrastructure.