Listening to Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn the top issue for Mississippi’s future is eliminating the personal income tax.
That’s a popular political perspective.
Mississippi Economic Council president Scott Waller told legislators that no business leaders have voiced eliminating the income tax as a priority. He added that some fear it could have unintended consequences.
That’s a frank business perspective.
Corey Miller, the State Economist, said changes to state taxes are unlikely to have any significant impact on the state’s economic growth, employment, or population.
That’s an expert economic perspective.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann has urged caution, saying that eliminating 32% of the state’s tax base should be thoroughly vetted.
That’s a common sense perspective
All too often in Mississippi politically popular nonsense overrides realistic common sense.
Here’s more. The head of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy wrote an opinion piece recently addressing Mississippi’s lack of growth and prosperity. He blamed it on “bad public policy.”
No doubt true.
He then listed 12 policies his policy center is pushing for state leaders to adopt that would “elevate” Mississippi to a better future.
Remember Blue Print Mississippi? That was the Mississippi Economic Council’s business-led, rigorously-researched planning process to establish policy priorities to make Mississippi more competitive with 12 neighboring states.
Interesting how little the two lists have in common.
Dare I say it again? All too often in Mississippi politically popular nonsense overrides realistic common sense.
Into this setting comes billions of extra dollars for the Governor and Mississippi Legislature to play with this year.
“The state has an extra $4.2 billion to spend,” Mississippi Today reported last week. It comes from “federal largesse” for COVID-19 recovery, federal infrastructure funding, and increased state revenues driven by federal stimulus spending.
Most of it is one-time money, meaning it will not be available in the future to cover recurring expenses such as teacher pay raises and tax cuts.
Hosemann explained, “There will be many proposals to use one-time money on fleeting items.” He said his hope is that leaders will focus instead on “generational change.”
“Years from now, we want to be able to point to the positive difference this influx of resources has made in our state,” he said.
The interplay between politically popular nonsense and realistic common sense in our state capitol will have higher stakes than normal this year. Could be a cliffhanger.
“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble” – Proverbs 3:21 & 23.
» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.