Mississippians deserve and need better-paying jobs. Governor Reeves made promises and reassurances to state lawmakers and officials on the capitol lawn during his State of the State address, saying he would work for more, better-paying jobs for all Mississippians. Everyone agrees that’s not in question. How to create said jobs, that is.
The reality is, nothing creates jobs like a road funding bill. According to a study performed by ARTBA, the state’s highway and bridge construction and maintenance industry supports over 31,000 jobs with a total annual payroll of $949 million. Even more, the industry has a $3.1 billion impact on the state’s economy. Without the transportation network that Mississippi’s transportation construction industry supports, it’s safe to say that none of the state’s industry sectors and the jobs they sustain would be able to exist.
Our state’s roads and bridges are falling apart at an alarming rate. 56% of all major roads and highways in Mississippi are in poor or mediocre condition while Mississippi drivers spend an average of $820 per year in vehicle operating costs associated with roads and bridges in rough condition. Even MORE alarming is the fact that Mississippi had the highest risk of motor-vehicle death out of any state in the country in 2018. The only solution to these problems is a long term, sustainable funding mechanism like a gas tax. Only paying a few cents at the pump would save money and lives across the state.
Conservative states across the Southeast like Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas have passed gas tax increases, all of which have seen success in repairing their roads and bridges and in new job creation. South Carolina had the 6th highest population growth in the country in 2019 and is expecting 1,000 new jobs to be created over the next 5 years as a result of the bill. Tennessee and Alabama were ranked #1 and #3 in the Business Facilities 2019 state rankings for Best Business Climate.
Funding for roads and bridges will not only make Mississippi safer for ALL Mississippians, but it will create thousands of new jobs as well.