At a press conference last week, Charlie Williams, president of the T1 Coalition, laid out his organization’s proposal for at least a short-term solution to the state’s lack of funding for road and bridge maintenance.

T1’s plan does not involve new money. In fact, it’s the opposite —Williams and others who gathered at the Capital are pushing for old money.

Since 1990, the Mississippi Legislature has diverted approximately $300 million from monies collected from user fees under the 1987 Road Program — intended for road and bridge work — to the General Fund, the Budget Contingency Fund and other state agencies or localities. Williams and other officials gathered at the State Capitol news conference called for that money to be repaid to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).

“This idea is not a new tax or user fee. It is simply allocating money for which it was originally intended,” Williams said. “We understand that the Legislature has the authority to fund this program however they choose, and this is one idea.”

Williams said the $300 million would serve to “bridge the gap” between now and 2016 when he hopes lawmakers would craft a comprehensive, long-term funding solution. It would also avoid trying to enact a permanent solution during an election cycle.

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