The Mississippi Legislature’s leadership and Governor Tate Reeves openly exchanged heated words over who would be controlling the $1.2 billion in federal funds Mississippi will receive as a result of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) ACT that Congress passed in late March. On Friday, May 7, it was announced that lawmakers would disperse the funds through the normal legislative appropriations process.
Fewer people driving has led to a massive shortage of funding for an already underfunded Mississippi Department of Transportation. Not only is the revenue from the gas tax much lower, but revenue from the lottery and casinos are virtually nonexistent with people staying home. DOTs across the country are experiencing the same problem. It is estimated that some states’ DOTs could experience losses as high as 45 percent due to the decreased traffic in their state. This drop in revenue is causing road and bridge improvement projects to be put at risk, during a time when the reliability of our transportation network is key for our state’s recovery.
The drop in revenue across the country has led to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) to submit a request to Congress for nearly $50 billion in relief. AASHTO believes immediate relief for state transportation departments will jumpstart the economy, provide jobs, and build the infrastructure that will allow the country to come back from the current recession.