Road Construction Companies Worry About MDOT Budget CutsBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 09 Feb 2011 02:07pm |
Workers in the business of constructing roads and bridges across Mississippi warn that state budget cuts could mean fewer jobs in their industry. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that initial budget recommendations call for a 100-million dollar cut in transportation spending.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has just over a 1-billion dollar budget. State legislators are looking to cut that budget by 100-million dollars this legislative session.
Dwayne Boyt works with the asphalt company APAC Mississippi.
Boyt is concerned that cuts could impact construction of roads and bridges across the state.
"The less jobs are left, the less employees we are going to have. If they have a 20% cut in construction dollars, just on average, businesses such as myself will do 20% less work and that's 20% less employees," Boyt said.
Boyt says road construction work in his field has dropped by 40-percent during the recession, and with stimulus dollars running out, they rely on the state to continue building and repairing roads and bridges.
House transportation chair Warner McBride of Courtland says he is trying to reduce the amount of cuts. He says that money that leads to more economic development around the state.
"Our transportation industry, that billion dollar MDOT budget, supports 50-thousand private sector jobs. It is very important that we be able to fulfill our budget commitment to keep those jobs and keep those dollars turning over," McBride said.
Senate Transportation chair Tom King of Petal says that money goes to more than just roads and bridges. He says more companies are asking about the statewide rail system.
"Over the last 50 years, rail has been vastly under used and underutilized. I think it is making a comeback. But there is so much infrastructure there that you have got to do. You have got to repair railway bridges and some of the track. They have got a lot to do there and some money needs to be spent there also. But it is definitely a good economical means of travel," King said.
Budget talks will continue at the through March.
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