Mississippi House passes bond bill, Delta institutions affected

By BY STEVE WILSON FOR THE E-T,

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bond bill Monday that has $86 million in funding for capital projects at state universities, $79 million in funding for capital projects involving state agencies and $25 million for projects at the state’s community colleges.

House Bill 1730, sponsored by state Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, would provide $44.5 million for the Department of Public Safety to build and furnish a new headquarters building in Rankin County, a new highway patrol substation in Starkville and a new Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy facility in Pearl. These three new buildings would replace aging infrastructure.

The bill passed the House by an overwhelming 113-5 margin but has a reverse repealer on it. This legislative tactic prevents a bill from going to the governor’s desk for signing into law and forces both chambers to perform more work on the bill. More projects will likely be added to it as in past sessions.

Among some of the other projects for state agencies include:

$18.4 million for repairs to the state capitol building, grounds and War Memorial Building.

$3.4 million for improvements to the entrance to LeFleur’s Bluff State Park and infrastructure related to the two museums on the property, the Mississippi Children's and the Mississippi      Museum of Natural Science.

$1 million for upgrades and renovations to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

$3.5 million for upgrades to the Windsor Ruins.

$7 million for capital improvements at the state Department of Mental Health facilities.

$3 million in improvements to dams and spillways at state parks for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Out of the $25 million for community colleges, Hinds would receive the biggest outlay, $2.8 million, for capital projects, with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College receiving $2.46 million.

Projects that will be funded at state universities include:

$3.65 million for campus safety and security improvements and $2.7 million for a child development learning center at Alcorn State University.

$3 million for campus building improvements at Delta State University.

$5.26 million for improvements to buildings on the campus of Jackson State University.

Mississippi State University would receive $10 million to build a new Kinesiology Department building and $8 million for the renovation two buildings at the agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine division.

The Mississippi University for Women would receive $13 million to construct a building to house its culinary arts program.

$13.5 million for Mississippi Valley State University to expand its student union building and other facilities.

The University of Mississippi would receive $13.55 million to repair, renovate and expand its data center building.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center would receive $6.5 million to replace a boiler and related equipment.

The University of Southern Mississippi would receive $6.5 million to repair and renovate its old kinesiology building, while its Gulf Coast campus would receive $700,000 for building improvements.

$1.4 million to replace air handlers at the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Building and the JSU Universities Center.

The bill would also expand the state’s borrowing power for capital projects designed to keep military bases located in the state from being closed under Base Realignment and Closure. The maximum amount of bonds that can be issued for these projects would be increased from $74 million to $77 million. The last time the federal government closed or realigned military bases was 2005.

It would also create a “Mississippi Dam Safety Fund” with $3 million to fund improvements to dams statewide.

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