Reeves claims Miss. gave Jackson $200M for infrastructure. Where did that money come from?

Gov. Tate Reeves says the state has given Jackson $200 million for water in recent years.
Gov. Tate Reeves says the state has given Jackson $200 million for water in recent years.(WLBT)
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:56 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves said the state gave Jackson $200 million over the last five or six years to address its litany of infrastructure needs.

However, an analysis of the numbers provided by Reeves’ office shows that most of that amount referenced likely didn’t come out of the state’s bank account.

Rather, the investments mentioned by the governor include several loans to address water and wastewater needs, revenues generated by the city’s one-percent infrastructure tax, and a direct allocation sent to the city from the federal government to help it recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reeves made the claim at a press conference Wednesday when he was asked by a reporter how much the state was prepared to spend to help shore up Jackson’s ailing water system.

“What I can tell you is the state has spent about $200 million in the city over the last five or six years,” he said. “As we get the short-run problems fixed, I think you’ll see a greater willingness to invest even more resources beyond the approximately $200 million.”

Numbers show $79.8 million of the amount Reeves claimed came in the form of loans/emergency loans from the Mississippi State Department of Health and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Another $86.7 million came from revenues generated by Jackson’s one-percent tax between 2016 through 2021. The state’s one claim to that tax is that the legislature had to authorize it. It then had to be voted on by Jackson residents before it could be implemented.

Reeves also appears to be claiming the $42 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding the city received directly from the federal government. However, that money came directly to local governments per provisions of the law signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021.

The state did give Jackson a $454,000 grant to address drinking water needs and forgave $1.5 million in principal on its 2016, 2019, and 2021 revolving loans from MDEQ and MSDH, but the rest of the money for now still must be paid back.

After reading through the numbers, we reached out to the governor’s office for clarification on his comments, but we have yet to receive a response. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba also was not immediately available.

In addition to the $200 million, Reeves has touted a matching grant program set up during the 2022 legislative session. The program, which is administered by MDEQ, will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for any ARPA funds local governments use on qualifying infrastructure projects.

The Capital City could receive an additional $27 million to $35 million through that program if it uses its remaining federal ARPA allocation on water and sewer work. Jackson, though, has yet to submit any applications to receive that funding.

Council President Ashby Foote would not “parse” the governor’s claims, saying the state stepped in to help Jackson during its recent water crisis.

“It would be tacky to parse what the governor says when he takes steps to help our citizens in their time of need,” he said. “I appreciate them going out and taking charge of the plant to get it running in the way it needs to be and making it sustainable and reliable.”

Last week, Reeves mobilized state forces to help the city of Jackson after equipment failures at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant disrupted water service for tens of thousands of customers.

Seven days after the state stepped in, Reeves announced that water pressure had been restored for most of the city. However, Jackson remained under a boil water notice.

As of Thursday, repairs were still going on at the plant. Experts were also on hand helping to map out future repairs for the facility.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Reeves said the state is committed to helping Jackson with its infrastructure, telling reporters on Wednesday that the state will likely tap into its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocation to help.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Mississippi is slated to receive $400 million over the next five years through the BIL, which will be made available through competitive grant and loan programs.

A fact sheet provided by the White House shows Jackson is expected to receive $1.1 billion from the law, including approximately $70 million for clean drinking water.

“The total population of the city of Jackson is about 5 percent of the state of Mississippi... If it were such that the $400 million were allocated across the [state’s] 1,100 water systems equally based on population, then the city’s allocation would be approximately $20 million,” Reeves said. “I think we all know the intermediate and long-term plans are going to be far greater than that.”

Issuing AuthorityAmountFunding TypeProject Type
Department of Health (MSDH)$10,861,920LoanDrinking Water
Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)$27,414,392.78LoanWastewater
MDEQ$340,249.00Emergency LoanWastewater
MDEQ$327,049.00Emergency LoanDrinking Water
MSDH$12,903,093.00LoanDrinking Water
MSDH$27,953,300.00LoanDrinking Water
MSDH$454,000.00GrantInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$14,420,772.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$13,976,331.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$14,456,292.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$14,023,730.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$14,440,921.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
MS Code Section 27-65-241$15,414,899.00Sales Tax LevyInfrastructure
U.S. Treasury$42,098,330.00ARPAAllowable expenses
Total$209,285,278.78(Source: Governor’s Office)

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