Hosemann outlines legislative accomplishments in speech to Vicksburg Rotary Club

Published 2:43 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that plagued the 2020 session have worn off and the Mississippi Legislature in its recent session approved several bills that are having a positive effect on the state’s infrastructure, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said Thursday.

“It’s all positive in Mississippi,” Hosemann said.

Speaking to Vicksburg Rotarians on Thursday, Hosemann outlined some of the programs that have come from the recent legislative sessions.

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Recalling the pandemic, Hosemann said the 2020 session of the Legislature “went on until October; the longest session we’ve ever had in the history of the state. We couldn’t get everybody together. Everybody was in masks. We couldn’t even get a quorum to have the Legislature do its constitutional duty.”

Since then, he said, “We have been on a roll.”

The Legislature, he said, developed the largest infrastructure plan in the state’s history.

“That plan was particularly important to me. The way we get our products to market and our kids to school has to do with infrastructure,” he said. “We gave $100 million to the counties. We’re going to fix our roads and bridges.”

In Warren County, Hosemann said, the state is going to fix the Flowers, or Ceres, exit on Interstate 20 and a bridge on Fisher Ferry Road.

“All of the local things that you would like for us to do we have started doing,” he said.

Hosemann said he is trying to get the Mississippi Department of Transportation to accelerate the process to get infrastructure projects under construction.

“They have accelerated the process. Three years ago, they leased out $400 million worth of work. Last year it was $965 million; over two times as much as we had done in the past. We are constantly talking about going from appropriation to asphalt, concrete and bridges,” Hosemann said.

“We are pushing out our maintenance program, which used to be like $10 million, is now $40 million and we funded the next two years already,” he said. “So we are taking these funds that you have given us are your funds and we are making good use of them on the infrastructure.”

Turning to education, Hosemann said the state has funded it more than other states, pointing out the allocation of $245 million for teacher pay raises.

He said he is also pushing for schools to go to a semester system and believes half the school districts in the state will be on the system within four years.

“It’s currently operating in Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Starkville, Corinth, Madison; just a number of different places,” he said. “What it is, it’s nine weeks on and three weeks off and the nine weeks on three weeks off, they still get 180 days of actual instruction. But during those three weeks, that’s called the intercession. And during the intercession, they’re welcome back to the school. If they were having trouble with the topic or they wanted to accelerate their learning, they could do.”

Hosemann said studies show the student’s grades are better and teachers and parents favored the process by 85 percent. He said he hopes the Legislature will provide funding to have all school districts implement the system.

On other topics:

• Hosemann said the state needs to look at helping hospitals but needs to define the standard of care, determine the basic needs of the hospitals and consider how they can best serve their communities.

• He discussed a proposed $80 million interpretive center for the Vicksburg National Military Park. There are several sites near the park that are under consideration by officials. Hosemann said the Legislature appropriated $10 million to acquire property for the center, which would explore the story of the siege and Grant’s campaign to take Vicksburg.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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