Lawmakers react to EPA letter urging Gov. Reeves to use $75M for underserved communities, including Jackson

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 8:01 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While the head of the Environmental Protection Agency has urged Gov. Tate Reeves to use future federal infrastructure dollars for underserved communities — mentioning Jackson among them — some lawmakers in the Magnolia State say their colleagues would have to put politics aside to ensure that happens.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Mississippi is expected to receive nearly $75 million for water infrastructure repairs.

Longtime State Sen. John Horhn (D-Jackson) said he has no idea how Reeves will react to Thursday’s letter from Regan.

At least one member of Jackson’s delegation thinks that, because that letter came from a President Biden-led agency, Reeves could just disregard it as if it came from a Democrat.

“Obviously, that has crossed my mind, but I hope that the government will remove politics [from] this,” said State Sen. Sollie Norwood (D-Jackson). “This is not about President Biden; it’s not about Gov. Reeves. This is about the citizens here in the city. This is about the little children that could be damaged permanently. This is about the seniors that want to live out the rest of their life, you know, gracefully, and just overall quality of life is being affected.”

After Jackson’s February water crisis brought pleas from city officials to fund emergency repairs, legislators pushed back on a second one-cent sales tax for water and appropriated far less to Jackson than the city asked for.

At the same time, the original one-cent sales tax and legislation establishing the Capitol Complex Improvement District — which together brings in more than $23 million annually — prove that lawmakers can pass legislation aimed at helping Jackson.

“It’s not like the state isn’t doing anything. The question here is, what more is the state willing to do? And we submit that we have some dire issues in our capital city that the state needs to be an active participant in helping to solve, and we’re hopeful that the legislative leadership, the governor, any other statewide elected officials that have an opportunity to weigh in on this will step up to the plate,” Horhn said.

Neither Reeves nor his office has responded publicly to the EPA letter.

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