House Bill 1168 was recently brought to the House of Mississippi, which would limit how Jackson can use funds from a 1% municipal sales tax.
In 2014, citizens of Jackson voted that the revenue that will be collected from the 1% increase to Jackson’s sales tax will go towards roads, bridges, water, and sewer projects. However, if House Bill 1168 is signed into law, all of the revenues collected from 2014 to 2022, totaling $120 million, shall be allocated only towards water and sewer projects.
With the said further restrictions on how the city could spend the said funds, some lawmakers voiced their opposition. As reported by The Clarion-Ledger:
A number of Democratic representatives spoke against the bill. Many of them said that the money a 1% sales tax brings in would do little to address Jackson’s significant water challenges, but that amount can have a real impact on roads and bridges. Jackson is slated to receive at least $600 million from the federal government for its water system, leading many of those lawmakers to wonder why funds should be taken away from roads and bridges at this time.
“The idea that Jackson has a billion-dollar wastewater problem, and a seven or eight hundred-million-dollar water problem, and you’re going to take 15 or 16 million-dollars and dump it in a billion dollar hole doesn’t make any sense,” Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, said. “So, with $15 million, you could do 15 miles of overlay on a road. Or you could take it and fix potholes in 20 or 30 miles of road in Jackson. That would actually do some good.”
Rep. Edward Blackmon, D-Canton, said if the legislature is concerned about Jackson’s water system, it should allocate funds to help, not take them away from other infrastructure projects.
The bill passed the House 76-41. An amendment failed that would revert the funds back to its original purpose once federal funding arrives, as did another that would give the commission more discretion over how to spend the funds.