Bill funding new Highway Patrol substation passes House

James Carskadon
Staff Writer

3:00 P.M. UPDATE: The committee substitute for House Bill 1597 reduced funding for the SOCSD partnership school from $10 million to $1 million, the bill text shows.
12:30 P.M. UPDATE: House Bill 1597, which would provide $10 million in funding over two years for the SOCSD partnership school on the MSU campus, was passed by the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday.

A bill funding a new Highway Patrol substation in Starkville passed the Mississippi House of Representatives Tuesday. However, the funding level is considerably less than the initial request of $6 million in bonds.
House Bill 376, passed by the House, authorizes the issuance of up to $1 million in bonds for the new Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G’s headquarters. Previous funding bills have sought $6 million in bonds for the station.
District 37 Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, said the actual amount of bonds issued would be determined during negotiations over bond bills at the end of the 2016 session. Chism said House members have grown tired of criticism from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves over spending requests, so all funding bills passed by the House will likely call for $1 million in bonds, regardless of the cost of the project.
“We’re just trying to avoid giving him more ammunition,” Chism said. “We’re sick of him acting like he’s the only adult in the room.”
The Senate has rejected funding for the new substation the last two years, but Chism said he is hopeful it will be passed this session.
“When it gets done, it will be an amount both sides have agreed on,” Chism said.
District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, said Wednesday that most other Highway Patrol headquarters have been updated, but Troop G continues to work in an outdated building that does not suit their needs. Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority has donated land for the substation in Cornerstone Park off of Highway 25.
“We have the land,” Ellis said. “All we need to do is build the station.”

Partnership school bill heading to committee
A bill authored by Chism, Ellis, District 43 Rep. Rob Roberson and District 39 Rep. Jeff Smith would provide $10 million in funding for the proposed sixth and seventh grade partnership school on the Mississippi State University campus over a two-year period.
House Bill 1597, which lists Chism as the principal author, was introduced on Monday and is expected to be taken up by the House Ways & Means Committee in the near future. Smith is the chair of the Ways & Means Committee.
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District is seeking to fund the $30 million school with $10 million from the state, $10 million from MSU and $10 million from a local bond issue.
“We’re hoping and praying that will go through as well,” Ellis said. “We haven’t had any pushback there.”