/Black caucus forum takes aim at tax cuts, budget, GOP policies

Black caucus forum takes aim at tax cuts, budget, GOP policies

Citizens and members of the caucus expressed concern about the lack of input regarding changes to the state’s tax code. They cited the 2016 regular session, in which a Republican supermajority passed a $415million tax cut that eliminated the three percent tax bracket for individuals as well as corporations. It also eliminated the franchise tax for businesses. Senator Hillman Frazier (D-Jackson) was asked how lawmakers would reverse the effect of the cut which goes into effect July 2018. He said that the tight grip of the Republican supermajority would make it difficult to roll back the cuts. Rep. Jarvis Dortch (D-Raymond) stated that while they do have the supermajority the state’s largest tax cut has been passed with the votes and support of Democrats. “We must hold our members accountable, and this is one of the great things about meetings such as this.” The Tax Foundation, which monitors tax policies in government, released a report this week giving Mississippi’s cuts high marks. It also stated that the changes would likely improve the state’s investment climate. Lt. Governor. “A fairer and flatter tax policy makes Mississippi companies more competitive internationally by eliminating or reducing this additional cost.” Mississippi Today was informed by Tate Reeves about the report that ranked the state’s tax system 28th among the nations. Non-governmental organizations presented different perspectives on the cuts and other legislative policy at the black-caucus townhall. Director of Hope Policy Institute, Corey Wiggins discussed several misconceptions about the state’s budget – he called them “a crisis” – and the state tax code. Wiggins stated that tax cuts don’t necessarily stimulate economic growth. He pointed out slow economic growth in other states such as Ohio, Maine, and Kansas after they passed large tax cuts similar with Mississippi’s. Erik Fleming, Mississippi ACLU policy director, described his organization’s goals in the 2017 legislative session. He also introduced a Mississippi civil rights bill that would provide protections for discrimination victims. Roderick Red, a Jackson filmmaker, showed a portion of his film that chronicles the consequences of the state’s inability to expand Medicaid. The event resembled more of a rally than it did a town hall when lawmakers opened the floor to residents’ questions. As lawmakers answered questions and encouraged the group, attendees cheered and applauded. One resident asked for clarification about what ordinary citizens could do to help change the policy. Rep. Earle Banks (D-Jackson) gave a passionate response, hitting his fists hard on the table and shouting into the microphone. Banks stated, “Unless the public rallies behind us and people see that the economy is in decline, then nothing will change.” These tax cuts will be harmful to our state. They (Republicans), don’t care much about the little guy. We must all come together to say “Enough is enough.” The Legislative Black Caucus will host another two town halls before October ends. Next one will be in Starkville on October 1 and the next in Biloxi, on Oct 22.