The tax cut, which was the centerpiece of Lt. Governor Tate Reeves’ legislative agenda, received 71 votes from the House. Tate Reeves was the legislative agenda. The Senate voted 36-14 hours later. Governor Phil Bryant will sign the bill. Reeves stated in a statement that a flatter and more equitable tax policy could help grow Mississippi’s economy and make Mississippi-grown companies more competitive in global markets shortly after the Senate voted. “I am proud that the Legislature has allowed Mississippians to keep their hard-earned money in their pockets to spend at their home,” Reeves said shortly after the vote. The bill eliminates the 3 percent bracket for individuals and corporations, as well as the franchise tax. Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory), complained that the tax cuts almost amounted to self-parody during Senate debate. Bryan stated, “We have a state fund that cannot meet the basic needs.” “We don’t have the money. We passed a budget that states there will be layoffs. We don’t know the impact of the tax cuts that we’ve made… This is not wise.” House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Jeff Smith (R-Columbus) stated that corporations with $100,000 liability would no longer have to pay corporate income tax. This applies to all but 200 companies in the state. Smith stated that the cuts would not take effect until fiscal year 2018. This amounts to $348 million from government treasury if fully implemented after 18 years. The cost to the treasury, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, will be $415 million. Smith said that approval for a bond bill to finance capital projects in the state was dependent on the House passing the tax cut. Smith stated, “If we go home and do nothing for our colleges and universities (Mississippi Development Authority), then I believe we’re being negligent.” The Senate passed the $250 million bond bill for the House 45-6 in accordance with the agreement between Senate and House leadership. One senator was absent. While the Senate was still debating the bill, the House passed the bond measure 108-9. Many Democrats criticised the tax cut plan. This was just after budget negotiations that saw a reduction in spending for many state agencies. Smith supported the state’s tax incentives programs, including $24 Million in tax credits for Outlets of Mississippi 2013 and future Continental Tire plant west of Hinds County. Smith stated that the outlet mall was profitable and was investing in the state’s economy. According to projections, Continental should break even within a few years. Smith stated that in four years we will have more money than we put into the outlet mall. The bond bill, which is 600 pages long, distributes bonding authority among many state and municipal entities. Both houses were also allowed to make discretionary allocations that will be distributed among state, municipal, and private entities. The governor must sign the bill, which will allow all state universities to receive between $6 million- $10 million in bonding authority for the next fiscal year. USM will receive a direct appropriation of a similar amount to build, instead of bonding authority. $25 million will be given to community colleges for building projects. Colleges will also receive a portion of the total, based on an existing allocation. Other bond recipients include municipal renovation projects and park cleanup projects. Bonds will be issued to certain counties for infrastructure improvements such as roads, bridges, and dams. The $15 million will be provided by the Mississippi Developmental Authority. $16.6 million will be given to the new Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. Each of the Jackson and Hattiesburg Zoos will be awarded $100,000. Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) stated that “we’ve got crumbling roads, bridges, and we’re going to fund Science Exploration Center.” “I don’t believe a lot these expenses are necessarily urgent. People are angry about the current situation. What point does it become acceptable to say “Let’s change this.”? Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), who is also chairman of the Senate finance panel, supported many of the projects in the bond bill. Fillingane stated that he wouldn’t have included many of the smaller projects. Fillingane said, “But this joint project between Senate and House, so I don’t get to take all the decisions that I want to make. It’s a team effort.” Both houses passed the remaining appropriations bills by the deadline. As lawmakers reviewed the budget changes for each state’s department and agency, the Capitol was abuzz with talk about possible cuts and layoffs. Many lawmakers complained about the insufficient information they received before being asked to vote on budget changes, as was the case throughout the weekend. Some agencies were subject to significant cuts. For example, the Mississippi Development Authority saw $20.8 million, which was a 22 percent reduction from the budget for the current year. Although funding for K-12 education was reduced by 11.5 percent, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (a formula that allocates money to schools) remained at the same level, but $170 million less than what the formula required. Members of the House also adopted a plan for renewing the historic tax credit program, raising the limit to $120million and imposing a $12 million annual cap. An earlier plan called for an $8 million annual cap. After fainting, Sen. Dean Kirby (R-Pearl) was unable to attend the Senate. Kirby was taken to University of Mississippi Medical Center on Monday morning. Paramedics brought him to the hospital and he was alert and awake when they arrived. Senator Josh Harkins (R-Flowood) gave an update on Kirby’s condition. He said that he was doing well and was being kept at hospital Monday afternoon for further tests. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to us today as part of the Spring Member Drive.