Almost one month into the Legislature’s annual session and Mississippi lawmakers have filed more than 16 bond bills authorizing more than $325 million of state-issued general obligation debt.
The bills were filed despite a warning from Gov. Haley Barbour that he is not likely to support authorizing new debt in fiscal 2009 unless it creates jobs.
Barbour, in his state of the state address on Jan. 21, said the government needed to cut up its credit cards. Double-A rated Mississippi already has more than $3 billion of GOs outstanding.
So far, lawmakers have submitted a variety of bills seeking state-issued GO financing for projects that include $100 million for capital improvements at school districts, $68 million to build a football stadium at Jackson State University, $50 million for a civil rights museum in Jackson, $25 million to provide loans and grants to small businesses in areas with poorly rated school districts, $10.5 million for an electronic mapping and facility inventory system, $10 million to assist small cities and counties, $5 million to help build livestock facilities, and $3.5 million to repair a golf course in Natchez.
One bill authorizing $30 million relates to economic development projects that generally do create jobs.
In addition to bond bills, SB 2029 would establish the Mississippi Lottery for Education Act with a major part of the state lottery proceeds going to provide college scholarships.
The Legislature’s session runs through May 12.