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By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — A top lawmaker says Mississippi needs to increase its gasoline tax to pay for highway and bridge maintenance, but he concedes that’s not likely to happen this year.

House Transportation Chairman Robert Johnson says 40 percent of Mississippi’s major roads and 28 percent of its highways are in poor or mediocre condition. He also says 25 percent of bridges are deficient or obsolete.

Mississippi’s excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel has been 18.8 cents per gallon since 1987.

Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez, filed a bill this year to increase the fuel tax. It died in the House Ways and Means Committee, and Johnson says there’s little chance it’ll be revived.

He spoke Monday at a forum sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps.

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