Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall spared no time in his under-10-minute session at the Neshoba County Fair Pavilion when it came to defending the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
Hall said the stated mission of the agency is to plan, design, construct and maintain the roads and bridges in Mississippi.
“But I want you to tell me how you plan, design, construct and maintain an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sensitive system of transportation when your resources are measured by a standard of funding set 31 years old?” Hall asked crowd on Wednesday.
The Commissioner said he is concerned for the future of Mississippi and its lack of economic planning.
“When are we going to embark on something as politically terrifying as planning for the future?” Hall said. “The business sector does expect the government to do that.”
Part of planning for that future is establishing a recurring, dependable source of funding for the state’s highways and interstates, according to the Commissioner.
“The best way to provide that stable funding… is the fuel tax,” said Hall. “This remains the fairest and most predictable tax the user pays.”
Hall recommended a two-to-three cent fuel tax increase per year for a set number of years to provide stable funding.