Mississippi lawmakers are set to vote on a set of bills that could cut up to $1.5 billion from state taxes. Lawmakers have until the end of the day to pass the measures.
The Senate Finance Committee passed a watered down version of House Bill 1629 yesterday. The original measure would have phased out the state's entire one-point-three billion dollar income tax. The new version is a compromise between that plan and the Senate's initial $400 million tax cut bill that would eliminate the corporate franchise tax as well as portions of the income tax. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says the compromise would lead to a $550 million tax cut over 15 years.
"So what we have proposed today is to take part of our plan and part of the house plan in an attempt to find a compromise to ensure that our taxpayers get the long-term tax relief that they so desperately need," says Reeves. "So what we've done is we would eliminate the four percent individual income tax rate for person al income."
When asked for comment, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn -- who’s been an outspoken supporter of the plan to phase out the income tax -- told reporters that he hadn't seen the Senate version and wouldn't comment on it. But Democrats took the opportunity to rail against both plans. Senator Hob Bryan of Amory says Mississippi can't afford to lose the revenue.
"These tax cuts represent 10 percent of the general fund," Bryan argues. "So if we've got 10 percent of our general fund that we don't need is that going to be a further ten percent cut to universities? A 10 percent cut to public schools? Are we still going to let our highways go to waste because we don't have enough money to maintain them? It's the wrong thing to do."
If both chambers pass a tax cut bill, they will likely head to negotiations between leadership to work out the differences.