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Tensions run high as deadlines near for agreements on tax and spending bills at the State Capitol

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:11 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you’re wondering whether lawmakers have agreed on what will happen with the state income tax moving forward, you’re going to have to keep waiting for that answer. The two chambers are still at odds on the issue.

The tension in Friday’s joint legislative budget committee meeting was clear. The purpose is for the committee to decide if they would adopt the increased revenue estimates.

They did that, bumping the current year’s general fund estimate from $5.8 billion to nearly $6.9 billion and from $6.5 billion to nearly $7 billion for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

Those numbers are important as lawmakers are facing an upcoming deadline to write the state budget for next year. But they’ve also been important in the ongoing tax reform debate.

“This leads me to my last number, which is zero,” said Speaker Philip Gunn near the end of the meeting. “That’s the number of reasons left as to why we cannot do income tax elimination.”

The Speaker took this meeting as the chance to throw another offer to the Senate.

“We on the House side are going to produce a conference report that contains the Governor’s plan,” stated Gunn. “This gives us as the legislature six options to pick from.”

“You left out one,” responded Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. “You said there were six; of course, there’s a Senate plan and we’re real proud of it as well.”

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann wants to remain cautious given what he considers to be an artificially inflated economy, given the amount of stimulus money that’s come into the state in recent years.

“It is clear to me that with all due respect, other than God, nobody really knows what the next two or three years is gonna be,” said Hosemann. “I heard my state economists say there’s one in three chances we’re going into a recession. And I’m basing that on a lot of other people saying I’m going into a recession. So I’m, I become nervous about that.”

Still, Gunn thinks the tax cuts are possible without creating a deficit.

“My position on that has been and still is that we should eliminate the income tax. We are collecting more money from our citizens than we’re actually spending,” added Gunn. “And we should return a portion of that to the taxpayers.

As a reminder, the Governor said Thursday that if the chambers didn’t come to an agreement that results in full elimination of the state income tax, he will consider a special session.

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