/Hosemann doesn’t like Gunn’s tax proposal Is Capitol gridlock looming

Hosemann doesn’t like Gunn’s tax proposal Is Capitol gridlock looming

Last year, Speaker Philip Gunn of the House was set to kill the most popular legislation in the session — a pay increase for the lowest-paid teachers of America — because of his proposal to abolish Mississippi’s personal income taxes. Gunn’s refusal to comply led to a dispute with Lt. Governor. Delbert Hosemann was late to a crucial deadline in March 2021. This run-in serves to remind us that there is always the chance of drama between these leaders, and possible legislative gridlock between Senate and House during the 2022 legislative session. Are major policy ideas of both leaders in trouble as Gunn puts his energy into his tax proposal again this session, while Hosemann insists he won’t support it? The House passed a bill to increase teacher salaries in the early 2021 session. The Senate also passed a bill to increase teacher salaries. Gunn and Hosemann fought on March 20, 2021, the deadline for leaders to adopt bills from the opposing chamber. Gunn allowed the Senate’s teacher-pay bill to die that day. Gunn had added a teacher raise to his plan to completely reform the state’s tax structure. This plan would have eliminated the state’s personal income tax, cut in half the grocery tax, and raised other taxes. Hosemann and other Senate leaders quickly criticized Gunn’s tax proposal. Hosemann warned about the “unintended consequences” of passing a bill without having it vetted and scored by economists. Legislative leadership was rebuked by education groups after they learned of the deadline-day drama. Erica Jones, president of Mississippi Association of Educators, stated that while being used as a bargaining tool is something we’re used to, it still stings. READ MORE: Teachers get a pay raise in a standoff over controversial tax proposal. When Senate leaders learned that Gunn had killed the House’s separate teacher pay bill that day, Hosemann and Dennis DeBar said they would do the same and repeal the House’s standalone teacher salary bill. This would have meant that teachers would not have any chance to receive a raise in 2021 if Gunn’s tax bill was passed, which Hosemann strongly opposed. After Mississippi Today reported that the deadline had passed, Hosemann and DeBar decided to kill the House’s pay raise bill and voted it out of committee. Gunn eventually conceded that his tax plan wouldn’t pass during the session. The House bill, which was passed by Senate leaders in the eleventh minute of the deadline day, gave teachers the raise. History is prone to repeat itself. This notion is especially evident when Gunn and Hosemann discuss the main goals they have for the 2022 legislative session. Gunn reiterated that his tax proposal was his top priority on the first day. Hosemann was asked about the tax proposal and again dismissed its chances of passing, but he hinted that the Senate was currently working on a bill that would “tax relief.” Gunn, Hosemann, and the majority of the major legislative goals for 2022 are the same. Both want to address teacher pay again, they want reenact the ballot initiative process, and they want something — we think — about medical marijuana. There’s also the important 10-year redrawing legislative districts and the use of billions of federal and state revenues for projects that will positively impact the state for future generations. The two leaders must reach a consensus on many issues. Gunn’s plans to eliminate the income tax and his insistent that he receives the Senate support he needs could cause problems. READ MORE: Inside Speaker Philip Gunn, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and his relationship