/$415M tax cut may be reconsidered

$415M tax cut may be reconsidered

Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn announced that they will create several groups to examine the budgets of state agencies and the entire tax system in the next few days. The group, made up of 13 Republican lawmakers and five Democratic legislators, and appointed by the governor, will examine Mississippi’s tax policy, as well as the budgets of state agencies, in order to identify “unnecessary spendings” and ways to spend money more effectively. The tax group will also review the $415 million tax cut Bryant signed in May. It is the largest tax cut in state history, and will go into effect in July 2018. The Republican leadership championed the law which will eliminate the 3 percent tax bracket for individuals as well as corporations and the franchise tax for businesses. After Department of Revenue statistics were released, some Republican and Democratic officials have continued to criticize the law. They cited previous corporate tax cuts as one reason for current state revenues being down. Gunn, R.Clinton, stated that it would be possible to combine what was passed in this session (the historic income tax cut) into a comprehensive plan, which may or not include the past session. Let’s take a complete look at it all if we are going to do a comprehensive review. There are two years left to complete this task. We have two years to come up with a system which incorporates what was passed this year.” Reeves stated that Republican leaders will tighten their grip over state agency budgets. They will examine line-by-line, when necessary, annual budgets of numerous state agencies, including those for Education, Mental Health, Health, Transportation, Corrections, and Public Safety. Reeves (R-Florence) stated that when we began five years ago, our focus was on the growth of Mississippi’s economy and not its government. “You can see the results of that commitment in those five years. “This plan is just a continuation.” Bryant had to reduce agency budgets twice in fiscal 2016, which ended June 30. This was to offset revenue shortfalls. The 2016 legislative session saw lawmakers vote to reduce the budgets of most state agencies for fiscal 2017. This included 47 percent for the Mississippi Developmental Authority. A bill called the Budget Transparency and Simplification Act was passed late in the session. It will allow $187 million from multiple agencies’ special funds to be transferred into the general fund. Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat elected in statewide office, has criticized the July 1 law. Hood’s office issued legal opinions to many state agencies, including the Department of Finance and Administration that stated that many of the special and trust funds they manage cannot legally be transferred into the general fund. Reeves stated Thursday that he does not take budget advice from the attorney General. “Heck, he doesn’t even give legal advice to me,” Reeves said Thursday. In five years, almost every year, the Legislature has allocated a lump sum amount for agency heads. They then decide how to spend it. Gunn and Reeves both said that Thursday’s plan could see the Legislature go line-by-line through agency budgets. Reeves stated that the Legislature has legislative authority over all line items in each state’s budget. Although we don’t always use the money, the Legislature is responsible for appropriating it. We are willing to place a line-item for every expenditure to the extent necessary, if it’s in the taxpayers’ best interests.” David McDowell from the Mississippi Democratic Trust said Thursday that the Legislature is the entity that appropriates money. Reeves indicated that the special fund sweeps bill may be examined by the working groups announced on Thursday. This will also include the tax and budget items. Reeves stated that “our effort to reform state government will never stop.” Reeves stated that there is no set time, other than the fact that it must be done. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. Republish this Story You can freely republish our articles online or in print under a Creative Commons licence. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Mississippi Today, Adam Ganucheau
July 14, 2016, Adam Ganucheau is Mississippi Today’s editor in chief. He oversees the newsroom with the editorial staff to achieve our mission of producing journalism that is both high-quality and public-interest. Since February 2016, Adam Ganucheau has been covering politics and state government at Mississippi Today. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi. You think? Otis, you think. They are not. They are not.