2018 Mississippi Legislative Accomplishment: Bond Bill Passage and Its Impact on Shipbuilding in Mississippi
An MMA Priority Bill During the 2018 Legislative Session
June 14, 2018
Every legislative session there is much debate about which state agencies or specific projects will receive general obligation bonds from the state. Numerous bond bills are introduced each year and while most die, those projects deemed most important are consolidated into one or two omnibus bond bills. These omnibus bills authorize bonds ranging from economic development projects to universities and junior colleges to infrastructure projects. Over the past several sessions the MMA has been particularly interested in the final version of the bond bill(s) as the state-owned shipyard in Pascagoula has been promised a series of bonds to fund updates and improvements.
In 2014, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, initiated plans to re-create the "Shipyard of the Future". They wanted to invest in modern infrastructure and equipment upgrades as well as new advanced technological processes to make shipbuilding more efficient and improve the work experience for their employees. Starting in 2015, the legislature agreed to invest $200 million in bonds over five years, with Ingalls matching the state's investment 2 to 1, for a total investment of over $600 million. This past legislative session, the MMA and others worked to ensure Ingalls received the fourth installment of state bonds ($45 million). Having worked diligently the past four years to make sure these bonds were received, the MMA will make it a priority for the 2019 session to secure the fifth and final installment. Employing over 11,000 workers and building nearly 70% of the U.S. Naval Surface Fleet, Ingalls, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, is a major economic driver in Mississippi. It is a top priority to keep companies like Ingalls in Mississippi building ships, employing Mississippians and bringing more revenue into our state.
"Mississippi's financial investment in our 'Shipyard of the Future' project will help maintain jobs and supplier opportunities in Pascagoula and across Mississippi for years to come. These changes will not only improve the quality of life for our shipbuilders to make them more efficient, but they will enable us to support Navy affordability targets and make us more competitive in future bidding efforts."
- Brian Cuccias, President, Ingalls Shipbuilding
Another notable section of House Bill 1649
, authorizes $50 million in bonds for the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (LSBP). The LSBP is normally appropriated $20 million each year, but the past two sessions the Legislature has been unable to make a general fund appropriation. To make up for this, they authorized $50 million: $20 million for each session without an appropriation, plus an additional $10 million. These funds will be used to replace the growing list of seriously deficient bridges around the state.