JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators are working on proposals to finance the construction and renovation of buildings for universities, community colleges and state agencies.

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 3047 , which would authorize the state to issue nearly $82.6 million in bonds for projects at universities, $25 million for community colleges and $36.5 million for agencies.

Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson asked about the bill's provision of $7 million to build and equip a new central office for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Blount, who is chairman of the Senate Public Property Committee, asked: "Can we meet the needs of the department with less money than this?"

The current Department of Public Safety headquarters is near I-55 in Jackson, a heavily traveled north-south corridor. The new building would be several miles away in a rural area of Rankin County, without direct interstate access.

The Finance Committee also passed Senate Bill 3048 , which would authorize tens of millions of dollars in bonds to finance a variety of projects, including improvements to water systems.

The bills go to the full Senate for more debate.

At the midpoint of the legislative session, the House is working on its own bond bills. One of them is House Bill 1650 , which passed the House on Tuesday and will move to the Senate for more work. It includes a few million dollars for universities and state agencies. Those are relatively small dollar figures that are expected to increase if the House and Senate end up negotiating a final bond package in late March, when the session will be winding down.

The state issues bonds to provide money for big-ticket items, and the bonds are paid off over several years. If legislators and the governor agree on projects, the bonds must also be approved separately by a state commission made up of the governor, state treasurer and attorney general.


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