CL: Tax debate: Get on with it, Legislature!

A group of third-graders trying to reach consensus over splitting up a sack of marbles would make faster progress than the Mississippi Legislature seems to be able to make over a cigarette tax hike debate.

Lawmakers went into recess from the 2009 regular session after being unable to agree on a cigarette tax hike – saying they needed more time to assess the state’s fiscal situation and the federal stimulus package before finalizing a state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Six legislative conferees – three each from the Senate and the House – returned to the Capitol last Tuesday to resume debate on House Bill 364. That is the cigarette tax hike bill that the two chambers are 11 cents per pack apart on in conference negotiations.

While the group of third-graders would likely resort to the highly complicated tactic of negotiating toward the middle, split the marbles and move on to the next order of business, Mississippi lawmakers apparently think it’s wiser to meet and recess, meet and recess, meet and recess, etc., without reaching an agreement.