Barbour can’t take credit or blame for national economy

Now, as the state economy slows in line with the national recession, we find ourselves staring at another decline in tax collections and another $700-million-plus hole in the budget – next year’s $400 million shortfall in revenue plus $300 million in “one-time money,” non-recurring revenues that have been scraped together from various sources throughout state government.

In addition, struggling Mississippi businesses are laying off workers, resulting in the lowest number of working people in the state since 1998.

As a result, Barbour is pushing a $90 million tax on the state’s hospitals, apparently supporting an increase in the tax on cigarettes and has already instituted a higher tax on nursing homes.

Thank goodness the federal stimulus money will help us plug some budget holes and, hopefully, enable us to avoid draconian cuts to public services for the foreseeable future.

These funds on the heels of the Hurricane Katrina relief funds have been a godsend to Mississippi. While both the stimulus money and the Katrina money are non-recurring “one-time” sources, without this federal help Mississippi’s economy would be in far worse shape than it is.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple: While state policies can be helpful in attracting businesses and creating jobs, we are influenced far more by the national economy, and no Mississippi politician should take credit or blame for the vagaries of the national economy.

Representative Cecil Brown
Clarion Ledger
3/25/9