Governor Reeves line item vetoes ten projects, but praises legislature for infrastructure investments

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Governor Tate Reeves is giving the green light to major infrastructure investments by the legislature. But he’s putting some projects on the chopping block.

In a Thursday press briefing, Reeves was all-in on the way the legislature divvied up most of the federal ARPA money.

“We’re strengthening our roads, we’re bolstering our bridges, and we’re increasing access to clean drinking water,” said Reeves. “These new pieces of legislation have the potential to massively impact folks’ quality of life.”

Here are the bills he has signed and highlighted Thursday.

HB1630, Mississippi Department of Transportation Appropriation

  • $1.426 billion appropriation for MDOT.
  • $45 million for maintenance program.
  • $35 million for capacity program which provides for new construction of major projects needed to add efficiency to system.
  • $40 million needed for a federal match that will go towards street projects.
  • $100 million for the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Program, which focuses entirely on local roads and bridges.
  • Legislative authority to make salary adjustments for staff, greater flexibility to invest budget into team.

SB2822, Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program Act of 2022

  • Makes $450 million available for grant program.
  • $400 million in one-to-one match grant, $50 million in additional grants to small municipalities.
  • Authorizes multiple rounds of water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grant projects.

HB1538/HB1421, ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Program & Appropriation

  • Invests $300 million into the program.
  • Money will assist rural water associations in the construction of eligible drinking water infrastructure projects.

But here’s the list of what the Governor is saying no to. Ten line-items in total.

Line-Item Vetoes:

  • $1 million to build a parking lot at the Jackson Convention Center.
  • $1 million to the Scenic River Development for their golf course.
  • $250,000 to Briarwood Pool.
  • $2 million for the City of Jackson Planetarium.
  • $500,000 to the City of Greenville for green space next to the Federal Courthouse.
  • $13.25 million for, among other things, a golf park and trail at LeFleur’s Bluff.
  • $1 million to the City of Pascagoula to assist with renovations of city offices.
  • $50,000 to Arise and Shine, Inc. in Copiah County.
  • $200,000 to Summit Community Development Foundation for costs associated with the Stand Pipe project.
  • $7.5 million in earmarks that would be distributed to private companies through the Mississippi Development Authority without the normal financial/economic impact analysis.

“Government should be in the business of attempting to steward taxpayer money towards needed projects of great importance,” said Reeves. “What the government should not be in the business of right now, or at any other time, is spending taxpayer dollars to build more golf courses, and upgrade private pools when there are far more appropriate ways to use this money.”

One of the projects may look familiar to you. It’s recent announcement came with the kind of pomp and circumstance that seems to follow projects that are all but a done deal. But Reeves says it’s not what the Capital City needs.

“This appropriation throws millions of dollars into a golf course that has already failed,” explained Reeves. “The expenditure becomes all the more inappropriate when considering that there are three public golf courses within less than five miles of this location.”

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith was among the leaders at the announcement earlier this month. We reached out to her office for comment about the veto and received this statement.

“Senator Hyde-Smith remains supportive of further development of LeFleur’s Bluff into an educational and recreational asset for the capital city and the state, and hopes the legislature and governor will revisit the option to invest this area.”

Ultimately, Reeves’ decision to make the line item vetoes is because, in his words, “I want Mississippians to have confidence that their money is being spent wisely.”

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