Tax reform discussions slowing progress as legislative session nears end

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 7:31 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -There’s a big divide both inside and outside the Capitol walls when you bring up tax reform. Still, it’s the elephant in the room as lawmakers enter their final days of this year’s session.

The Parents Campaign continues to raise a red flag on the potential impacts of plans.

“We ran the numbers to see what that sort of cut would mean for school districts; it is just devastating. It is many millions of dollars per school district.”

Meanwhile, Empower Mississippi’s Russ Latino believes it’s not only needed but doable.

“The state is operating now on back to back billion-dollar surplus years over revenue estimates. You’re looking at in the next fiscal year, $4.4 billion projected and reserves. That’s money that’s sitting on the sidelines, that’s not being appropriated,” said Empower Mississippi President Russ Latino. “So, the state of Mississippi is in a fairly flush position, to be able to return to workers what they’ve earned.”

Tax reform back-and-forth has been an underlying part of discussions at the Capitol all session.

“That conversation about how we fit into the tax reform plan has been mostly in the leadership up top,” said House minority leader Rep. Robert Johnson. “When when you talk to rank and file members, whether it be Democrats or Republicans, they’re concerned about the issues that their citizens are concerned about. And that those are things that affect their everyday lives. And somebody will say, well, income tax does, what doesn’t matter whether you have income tax, you don’t have good drinking water, doesn’t matter.”

Rep. Robert Johnson and Sen. David Blount both echoed the desire to instead focus on the chance for significant funding for water/sewer and road and bridge projects via ARPA funding.

“We have that money in the bank right now,” noted Blount. “And it’s being held hostage with this income tax proposal. And it’s really not what we need to be doing.”

Speaker Philip Gunn made no bones about his desire to see the elimination of the income tax known last week. Even attempting to call the Senate position to spend those ARPA funds but not eliminate the income tax “hypocrisy.”

Last week, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann declined to say whether his weekly meetings with the Speaker have included a discussion of the Speaker’s desire to first handle tax reform before obligating ARPA funds.

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