Hopes were high when Mississippi Republicans gained the supermajority in the Legislature. If there was ever a time to finally press forward with the most common sense conservative legislation to make the most impact this was it.
While there have been a few conservative legislative victories (perhaps the greatest being appointed school superintendents) the hopes of a significant policy shift to the right have been dimmed. Sine Die looms large.
The argument can be made that the Republican supermajority has expended its initial post-election session capital on bills that either haven't gone far enough (even the superintendents bill didn't include all elected school boards) or that has been bloated by low hanging red fruit instead of landmark legislation Republicans from the Coast to Corinth could celebrate.
We could be discussing monumental efforts such as...
All elected school boards.
Reducing the size of the Legislature.
Making state budgeting or even Legislative sessions biennial.
Campaign finance reform.
State agency reconfiguration.
Heck, the Legislature could have called for a new state constitution, to clean up laws and policies from a century of Democrat control, but the voters' will for such sweeping conservative policy shifts obviously wasn't embodied in their House and Senate members.
It could be argued that at the very least, as a core conservative principle, legislative Republicans owe taxpayers of all stripes a pay raise, and there's still time.
A phased in taxpayer relief bill that directly effects every Mississippian isn't too much to ask. The 15 year phase-in that has been proposed which leaves the 5% income tax rate but eliminates the 3% and 4% rates is plausible. If you just did your taxes you know that is a significant savings across the board from the lowest earner to the highest.
In addition, Mississippi's smallest businesses to our largest industries should share in tax relief. It's about jobs and growth, not just for the here and now but for our collective future.
State government's main role as it pertains to our free market economy is to provide a political climate that is stable and that evens the playing field as best as possible among those competing in our global economy.
Mississippi can ill afford to be behind the curve in such matters.
The Legislature should aggressively seek to ensure that the fluidity and functioning of our private business sector is protected and enhanced through our state laws and policies, and yes, that includes pursuing tax reforms.
It doesn't matter if you speak with the smallest businessman or the most successful industry executive the one thing all private business people understand is the need for government to reduce its heavy financial and regulatory hand on their enterprises.
A self employment tax deduction for sole proprietorships is a reasonable request. It makes conservative ideological sense to level the field and encourage growth in these some 160,000 small businesses, especially when you consider the tax breaks their large corporate counterparts already qualify for.
You see, sound business and hiring decisions are based on assessing the long view. Merely operating day to day, doing only what's in front of you with no real vision or outlook will eventually catch up with you, and not in a good way.
Similarly, government focused on short term fixes or low hanging fruit as if to appear "business friendly" or "conservative" in the short term or for the next election cycle does not promote long term economic growth.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves' plan to phase out the corporate franchise tax takes such a long view at giving our states' businesses a fair shot while helping our economic developers attract new companies in a competitive national economy where many states do not impose such a tax burden.
A study from the Mississippi Manufacturers Association shows that the elimination of the corporate franchise tax is forecasted to increase the state GDP by $237 million in 2020 and by $282 million in 2025 while generating 3,287 new jobs by 2020 and 3,514 by 2025.
Yes, state revenues have lagged behind projections, but I'd argue that such lags provide this Republican supermajority a great opportunity to demonstrate where they place their priorities and how they plan to move our state away from dependence and into a greater economic freedom for all. Will Legislators side with the people who work everyday and pay these taxes and with those who provide our jobs or will they simply seek to maintain an overgrown state bureaucracy?
Posted April 14, 2016 - 4:06 pm