Local elected officials must do a better job persuading their legislators to back new road and bridge maintenance funding, Senate Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons says in assessing prospects for getting a transportation bill through the 2017 Legislature.

But whether they are willing to do so is unclear, especially after disappointment in the proposed local share of new transportation funding diminished their enthusiasm for a transportation bill in this year’s session.

Simmons said he thinks the job for business leaders across Mississippi is to prod local leaders to become stronger and more vocal advocates for fixing the state’s highways and bridges. It will be particularly important for them to take on a larger voice in their discussions with House members reluctant to back new taxes and fees for transportation maintenance, Simmons said.

Local backing fell short in the last session, according to Simmons; assessment. “The Mississippi Association of Supervisors and Mississippi Municipal League did not pass resolutions that said we need help with our roads and bridges so we don’t look like the city of Jackson in the future,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the stakes will be much higher in 2017. “The closer we get to the next election, the tougher it is going to get to raise taxes,” he said in an interview last week.



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