Governor Haley Barbour signed Senate Bill 3268 on Wednesday evening. His statement on the measure follows:

Governor’s Signing Statement for Senate Bill 3268

To the Members of the Mississippi State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 3268, “AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES OF CERTAIN MUNICIPALITIES TO IMPOSE A SPECIAL SALES TAX OF NOT MORE THAN 1% ON THE GROSS PROCEEDS OF ALL SALES OR THE GROSS INCOME OF BUSINESSES IN THE MUNICIPALITY DERIVED FROM ACTIVITIES TAXED AT THE RATE OF 7% OR MORE UNDER THE MISSISSIPPI SALES TAX LAW; TO PROVIDE CERTAIN EXEMPTIONS FROM THE SPECIAL SALES TAX AUTHORIZED BY THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE SPECIAL SALES TAX SHALL NOT BE LEVIED UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY AT LEAST 3/5 OF THE VOTES CAST AT AN ELECTION CALLED AND HELD FOR SUCH PURPOSE; TO PROVIDE THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE REVENUE COLLECTED FROM THE SPECIAL SALES TAX MAY BE USED AND EXPENDED; TO REQUIRE MUNICIPALITIES TO APPOINT A COMMISSION WHICH MUST APPROVE THE EXPENDITURE OF REVENUE FROM THE TAX LEVIED PURSUANT TO THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES” with the understanding that the Legislature will work to pass subsequent legislation during the 2009 Regular Session that addresses the following concerns:

Senate Bill 3268, as written, would place an unlimited, open-ended tax burden on those doing business in the City of Jackson.

Throughout my Administration, I have consistently stated that any proposed local option sales tax would have to meet the following
criteria: 1) require a front-end referendum with a 60 percent voting majority; 2) be based on a specific capital project; and 3) have a clear definition of completion so that the specific tax can be automatically removed at the end of the project.

This bill does require a front-end referendum with a 60 percent voting majority. I would not have signed the bill without it. The citizens of the City of Jackson must be given the opportunity to decide whether to raise the sales tax in their community.

This bill, as presented to me, does not squarely meet the other criteria. As written, the bill provides that any revenue collected would be directed to police and fire protection; emergency road and sewer repairs; and street repaving and resurfacing. Although these are worthy initiatives, they are not a “specific capital project.”
Additionally, although the bill has a 2014 repealer date; the need for police and fire protection and road and sewer repair will certainly not end in 2014. The repealer could easily be extended by legislative amendment without an additional referendum. Therefore, there is not a definite end to this special tax.

Chairman Watson of Ways and Means has committed to me that he will lead the passage of subsequent legislation in this legislative session that will require an additional local referendum before the 2014 repealer can
be extended. Therefore, the citizens of the Capital City will know,
with certainty, the lifetime of the tax they are being asked to approve.

Particularly in these challenging economic times, we must be careful not to overburden our business community, including the hundreds of small business owners who ply their trade in the Capital City. For that reason, I do not personally support this bill; however, the Legislature
passed this bill by a 3/5, bipartisan vote in both houses. The bill
also requires a 3/5 vote of the citizens of the City of Jackson before the tax can be levied. I urge the citizens of the City of Jackson to carefully and thoroughly examine the bill before going to the polls.

Understanding that the issues addressed above will be rectified by subsequent legislation in the 2009 Regular Session, and that the citizens of Jackson have the ultimate approval before the tax can be levied, I am signing Senate Bill 3268.

Respectfully submitted,

Haley Barbour

Governor Haley Barbour Press Release
3/12/9