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Mississippi Speaker Philip Gunn Trying to Drum Up Support For Tax Cut

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Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn is trying to drum up support for a proposed tax break that would phase out the state's income tax. He says the cut has gotten a bad name because people don't understand how it would work.

Biblical tithing, that's how Speaker of the House Philip Gunn wants says a proposed tax cut would work if it's approved by lawmakers. House Bill 1629, which has already passed the House, would phase out Mississippi's income tax over the next 15 years. However, due to certain safeguards the cuts would only take place in years that total state revenue grew by at least three percent. During a speech in Jackson yesterday, Speaker Gunn related the tax breaks to the state government tithing tax revenue back to residents.

"You give a tithe out of the increase at least that's my understanding of scripture," says Gunn. "If you start the year with 10 goats and you end the year with 10 goats, well you don't give a tithe because you haven't had any increase. But if you start the year with 10 goats and you finish the year with 20 goats, according to scripture you give a tenth, so you're going to give one goat to the church but you get to keep the other nine."

Gunn went on to say that despite what critics have said, the state would not lose money, even if lawmakers decide to cut the state's second largest source of revenue. Yet many remain unconvinced the cuts will keep state government intact and offering the same services it currently does. Nancy Loome is with the Parent's Campaign -- a public education advocacy group. She says if lawmakers approve the tax cut then the state would still lose money it could have spent on schools.

"Obviously when the potential for revenue is decreased you're just going to have less funding available you would of had had you not decreased revenue," says Loome. "The numbers just don't work the way that the speaker has presented them. We think it means tremendous cuts in future education appropriations and that spells real trouble."

The bill has already been sent to the Senate for its approval, but some speculate the Senate will reject the cut in favor of their own tax plan.