Barbour flip-flop purely political

Mississippi residents should be wary and skeptical of Republican Gov. Haley Barbour?s sudden change-of-heart in which he now says he would be open to a cigarette tax increase next term.

Barbour?s about-face comes after he vetoed bills in 2006 to raise the cigarette tax from 18 cents to $1 a pack and also cut or eliminate the state?s 7 percent sales tax on groceries. Barbour had Republican Sen. Tommy Robertson kill a similar bill this year in the Senate Finance Committee.

Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, attributed Barbour?s abrupt change to election-year politics. Plus, Dowdy said, Barbour?s actions protecting the tobacco industry from higher taxes are simply an extension of his work in Washington as a tobacco lobbyist.

?Can you believe it?? Dowdy said. ?After killing bills that would have helped all Mississippi residents regardless of their economic status, Haley now makes a stunning about-face and says he might actually consider raising the cigarette tax.

?Haley is telling people what they want to hear and hoping that maybe, just maybe, they won?t remember his real stand,? Dowdy said. ?Well, I?ve got news for Haley: Voters are smarter than that. They won?t forget he killed those tax bills the past two years.?

Mississippi has one of the the nation?s lowest taxes on cigarettes at 18 cents a pack and one of the nation?s highest taxes on the sale of groceries at 7 cents on the dollar.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that Barbour told the paper?s editorial board he would be open to a cigarette tax increase if it is part of a tax package that provided ?a significant tax cut? for everyone. Barbour said he hopes to do a comprehensive study of the tax code.

But Dowdy said the governor?s comments could mean ?just about anything.?

?Haley has had every chance to support the cigarette tax-grocery tax issue and provide immediate tax relief for everyone,? Dowdy said. ?But he didn?t. He lobbied against the issue. He vetoed legislation. And now he wants us to believe he?ll consider the cigarette tax issue during a second term.

?We can?t believe anything Haley says,? Dowdy said. ?This is just another example of how Haley is two-faced on important issues.?

MS Democratic Party Press Release
5/8/7