Senator Simmons helps secure $15 million in ARPA funds for local projects
During the just-concluded 2022 Mississippi legislative session, state legislators not only had to deal with determining how to spend the state’s regular budget, they also had to figure out how to use 1 $.9 trillion in federal funds from the US bailout.
Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, said the influx of federal dollars is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
“I was pleased to be instrumental in the process to help address the systemic issues that our citizens have faced for decades,” Simmons said. “The $1.9 trillion US Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided Mississippi with $1.8 billion to help repair and build infrastructure, especially relates to water, sewer and broadband.”
Of the $1.8 billion, lawmakers have earmarked more than $1.5 billion for various agencies, such as $60 million for Accelerate MS to help with nursing education and health science infrastructure. health in community colleges and universities; $30 million for tourism in designated marketing organizations; $25 million to the Department of Health to help with telehealth, informatics and IT infrastructure; $450 million to the Department of Environmental Quality to assist with city and county well and sewer projects; and $300 million to the Department of Health to help rural water and sewer projects. Projects related to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Health will be administered through an application process with those respective agencies.
Simmons said requests from municipalities across the state were used to determine the state’s total infrastructure needs. Although this figure far exceeds the total amount the state must spend, these requests will be used to determine significance and funding.
Simmons said he helped spearhead about $15 million worth of projects in Greenville and the greater Delta.
These projects include:
* $500,000 to the City of Greenville to pay for construction and landscaping costs associated with the federal courthouse as part of the Thad Cochran Courthouse Project;
* $150,000 to the Coahoma County Higher Education Center for the completion of the HVAC system;
* $1,500,000 to the City of Greenville to pay for the costs of refitting Hangar 173 at the airport to assist MDCC’s Aerospace Maintenance Training Program;
* $1,000,000 to the City of Cleveland to pay for costs associated with the airport terminal road expansion project;
* $2,000,000 to the Delta Health System for capital and infrastructure improvements related to patient room compliance and women’s center services;
* $2,500,000 to the BB King Museum and the Delta Interpretive Center to pay for costs associated with renovations, repairs and improvements to the Museum and Club Ebony; and
* $7,500,000 for construction of a new men’s dormitory at Mississippi Delta Community College that will be used for fire academy housing.
While funneling dollars to his district was a major accomplishment of this session, Simmons said he was also proud of the work leading the selection of a new state song written by one of his voters.
“One of the highlights of the session was playing the song ‘One Mississippi’ written and performed by our very own Steve Azar,” Simmons said. “It was a joy to burn the midnight oil with legislative leaders, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Phillip Gunn to get this song across the finish line.”
As part of this year’s regular budget, three state positions will see their salaries increased.
Teachers will see the highest pay increase in state history at an average of $5,100.
Sheriffs will get a $5,000 pay raise, and counties with a detention center have the option to pay their sheriffs an additional $5,000. District attorneys will get a pay raise of $8,500 and investigators will get a raise of $3,500.