The Clarion-Ledger, 8/20/8

A tax commission established by Gov. Haley Barbour voted Tuesday to recommend hiking the tobacco tax to 50 cents, a move that most likely assures such an increase is in Mississippi’s near future.

But key legislative leaders said most other tax code tweaks that cleared the commission probably will not pass the Legislature. The commission’s long list of suggestions includes taxing services that are now exempt from sales taxes – such as pet grooming, lawn mowing and beauty salon services – and giving local governments the power to levy taxes with voter approval.

As panel members finalized their recommendations, they did not discuss reducing the state’s 7-percent tax on groceries, which is among the highest in the nation. Although Democrats protested its absence, commission Chairman Leland Speed said a cut would hurt cities that depend on the tax revenue.