Legislators have full slate this year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 3, 2016

Citizen representatives from all over the state will travel to Jackson Tuesday as the Mississippi Legislature begins its 2016 session.

Locally, we hope lawmakers can impress upon their colleagues the importance of promoting Natchez’s 300th birthday celebration through additional marketing funds.

Statewide, many of the same legislative themes that appear over and over again will likely be front-and-center.

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Educational funding is always a hot-button topic and no doubt will be discussed at length during this session.

The work by supporters to pass Initiative 42 in November hopefully will awaken at least a few lawmakers to see the importance of getting the funding set once and for all.

Perhaps lawmakers will realize the public is getting tired of being last in the country in most rankings, often tied to our population’s poor education. Sure, money isn’t the ultimate solution to all of Mississippi’s educational woes, but clearly our current path isn’t successful. Perhaps resources are a factor?

Also a perennial issue is funding for seemingly boring, but critically important state projects centered on transportation.

Mississippi’s roads and bridges need significant investment to get them back up to par. The Mississippi Economic Council issued a report recently that suggested the total financial need to address Mississippi’s subpar roads and bridges would approach $6.5 billion.

While full funding is not likely, MEC suggested the Legislature provide an additional $375 million annually to the state’s worst transportation problems with the goal of at least putting a dent into the problem soon.

We think that’s a plausible idea and one that needs significant consideration. Providing safe, secure infrastructure Mississippi can move its economy ahead faster than the road we’re on now.