Mississippi’s sales tax – the first nationally – was enacted 75 years ago to apply to all retail purchases and services, exempting only agricultural items to placate the strong farm bloc.
Since then, 400 exemptions and reduced rates have been tacked onto the law, most of them from special interest lobbies. However, advocates for Mississippi’s thousands of poor people never had an organized lobby to push for relief on taxes on their foodstuffs.
Remarkably, it took a Republican, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, two years ago to produce a plan that got traction. Her proposal – to offset the grocery tax loss by increasing the pitifully low cigarette tax – passed both houses of the Legislature, only to be killed by Barbour.
Of all the ridiculous reasons Barbour has come up with for vetoing the grocery tax cut, the most absurd came while debating Democratic foe John Arthur Eaves: The state Tax Commission couldn’t figure how much revenue would be lost.