House Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature struck down a $550 million tax measure last week.
The bill was sent to the House following the Mississippi Senate passing the bill in a vote 40-11 in favor. The bill would cut taxes for corporations, small businesses and individuals over the next 15 years.
The House’s 72 out of 121 representatives needed to vote yes for the bill to pass. After three hours of debate, the House voted down the measure 67-52. It was an unprecedented show of solidarity for the Democrats.
The Clarion-Ledger reported Republican House Speaker Phillip Gunn said, “We brought forward a measure to give real tax relief to the citizens of Mississippi. Democrats killed it.”
The Clarion-Ledger also reported Republican leaders promised tax cuts this election year.
Even though the bill was shot down, there is a chance for the bill to technically be revived, which would require both procedural and realpolitik problems.
The Charlotte Observer reported House Minority Leader Bobby Moak said, “Now the arm-twisting begins. We will fight this again.”
In the debate lasting over three hours on Wednesday, Democrats argue the bill would cut taxes on corporations who already pay too little while starving the state of funding.
According to the Charlotte Observer, opponents have offered another solution.
Rep. Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, said investing in schools, roads and other items is a better way to improve Mississippi.
USM associate professor of political science Bob Press explained why tax cuts were being passed now.
“The idea is that you lessen the burden on families in terms of taxes and you lessen the burden on small businesses in enlargements and that would encourage them to do more in terms of business,” Press said.
Press also explains opponents’ reasons for opposing the bill.
“We are the poorest state in the union,” he said. “We already have a low tax system here. So if you cut it even more, you begin to cut into what the state revenues are in terms of providing infrastructure and programs that people need.”
One aspect the tax cuts would affect is faculty pay. Press said that the presidents of all state universities and faculty senate presidents with faculty are pushing for five percent paid increase for staff and faculty.
Staff and faculty at USM have not had a pay raise for five years. Their pay has been slowly slipping for three years due to inflation as well.