Democratic lawmakers say Mississippi is on the verge of a financial disaster with a current budget that is short millions of dollars. They call the issue the elephant in the room.
Mississippi's Democratic Caucus, reports the state has collected $50 million dollars less in revenue this year than the same time last year. They argue it's the result of Republicans approving corporate tax credits and tax cuts since 2010. At a news conference yesterday, Democratic lawmakers said the upcoming $415 million in tax cuts due to be phased in beginning July 1st, should be postponed. Representative David Baria is the Caucus Chair.
"We have a real looming fiscal crisis and we don't seem to be taking proactive steps to avert it," said Baria.
"It is like an elephant in the room when everybody walks around like 'ah we got a budget crisis but we're going to be okay, we've just go to make some cuts,' " said Johnson.
House Democrat Robert Johnson of Natchez, doesn't want the upcoming tax cut postponed. He wants it reduced to avoid more cuts to the more than $6 billion dollar budget.
"And when we talk about cutting back mental health services, healthcare services, cutting money going to roads. We just had the federal inspectors come in and shutdown 166 bridges," said Johnson.
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore, Republican Terry Burton of Newton, says the tax cuts help Mississippi compete with other states for businesses. He says the state went into the recession late and is lagging in recoverring. But Burton isn't ready to push the panic button.
"We're going to do the best we can and then make adjustments as we need to once the feds have acted on some of the things, like how much money is going to go to the states for roads and bridges. How much money is going to go to the states for Medicaid." said Burton.
This fiscal year Governor Phil Bryant has cut agencies three times. Democrats say its going to take both parties working together to improve the state's fiscal outlook. They support a lottery and an internet sales tax to help generate revenue.