Senate Conservative Coalition opposes tax hikes for highways

August 12, 2013 (Jackson, MS.)–The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition (MSCC) today announced the group will reject any attempts to raise gas taxes or sales taxes on Mississippi families as part of a plan to raise revenue for transportation projects. A transportation task force has been looking into the issue.

Senate Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons(D) released a proposal last week that would raise $700 million in new revenue by increasing taxes on gasoline, diesel, car tags and titles, residential utilities and tires and would remove some sales tax exemptions on agriculture and manufacturing.

Senator Simmons described the proposal as a “starting point” for negotiations.

MSCC members say, as far as they are concerned, Simmons’ “starting point” is a “non-starter.”

“Chairman Simmons’ proposal is clearly another attempt to increase government spending on the backs of Mississippi taxpayers and families,” said Coalition member Senator Will Longwitz. “We should be cutting government, not killing jobs by raising people’s gas prices.”

Simmons’ proposal would be the largest tax increase for Mississippi consumers since the early 1990’s. The timing of the tax proposal in light of Mississippi’s uneasy economic recovery is also a concern.

“All of the items Senator Simmons would like to raise taxes on are aimed squarely at working Mississippians who are having a hard time making ends meet right now,” said Coalition Communications Director Senator Melanie Sojourner. “Removing exemptions for job creators in agriculture and manufacturing will force job cuts and increase unemployment. Raising gas prices and utility costs also have the added flaw of increasing the price of consumer goods, groceries, clothes, virtually everything will be affected.”

The coalition plans to look closely at the issue in the remaining months before the 2014 session by studying the transportation budget and maintenance planning in relation to the overall state budget and spending priorities.

“We must find efficient ways to maintain our state infrastructure without upsetting commerce with calls for more taxes and heavy-handed government controls,” said Coalition Chairman Senator Chris McDaniel. “Our spending priorities are clearly in question when we are increasing bond indebtedness on pet projects such as museums while our infrastructure is allegedly failing. Mississippians are spending more on basic needs than ever. They don’t need their state government making that worse.”

Clarion Ledger