Lawmakers in the Mississippi House have likely killed what could have been one of the largest tax cuts in state history.
52 Democrats blocked the 60 percent super-majority needed to send House Bill 1629 to the Governor. The measure was a compromise between competing plans that would have cut $550 million from the corporate franchise tax and portions of the state income tax over the next 15 years.
Republican Representative Jeff Smith of Columbus is the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He now has the difficult choice of whether to send the bill to negotiations.
"I'm afraid that if we send it to conference we may wind-up with a bill that does not have the ability to survive all the way through to the final vote,” says Smith. “[It’s] simply a way of saying one of the members that's against could raise a point of order that there are items in our bill now that were not in the original bill. "That would effectively kill the bill."
In a debate that lasted nearly three hours, Democrats argued the cut would shift the tax burden onto local governments and decrease funding to state program like education and Medicaid. Democratic Representative Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto is the House Minority Leader.
"They made a decision,” Moak says. Don't raise taxes on the local landowner, on the local businessman and fund the things that people send their money in the form of tax dollars up here to do. "Take care of our children. Take care of our elderly. Take care of our law enforcement. The basic need of government."
In separate written statements, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor expressed their disappointment in the results of the vote and say Democrats have chosen to keep unnecessary taxes on families and small businesses.