Slashing the Income Tax is a Bad Deal for Mississippi

The path to move Mississippi forward is for all of us to pitch in and ensure every family and community in our state has a fair opportunity to live a good life.

But some in Jackson are carrying the water for special interests, trying to rig our tax system so that wealthy corporations and people contribute less, at a cost to regular Mississippi families trying their best to make ends meet and put their families on firm footing for the future.

Make no mistake: Plans to dramatically cut or even eliminate the state individual income tax will make it harder for us to lift up working families, provide a great education for all our students, build safe and reliable infrastructure, and promote economic growth. To support these tax cuts is to put special interests ahead of the well-being of the state, our communities, or our people.
We all want a more prosperous Mississippi. We want to strengthen our local communities and create opportunity for all residents – white, Black, and brown alike. But another wasteful tax cut won’t help. 

Since 2012, Mississippi has passed more than 50 tax cuts, including the largest tax cut in state history in 2016. (In fact, if lawmakers do nothing, we will still see an income tax cut next year as a result of these previous changes to our tax law.) So, if tax cuts are so great for our state, why haven’t we seen the economic boom and great prosperity that’s been promised with every round of cuts? 

The truth is we need state revenue to pay our teachers the salaries they deserve, fund schools that have been deprived the resources they need for too long, repair aging infrastructure, boost opportunity for those struggling to make ends meet, and make this a place where all of our families can thrive. More cuts will jeopardize everything we’ve worked to build so far, and make it harder to meet the present-day and future needs of the state.

Supporters of proposed tax cuts are selling empty promises. The truth is eliminating or reducing the state individual income tax won’t make Mississippi more prosperous or competitive. There is a deep body of research and evidence to prove that tax cuts don’t meet their stated goals. In the first half of the 2010s, five states enacted deep cuts in personal income tax. In four of those five, jobs and income growth lagged national average.

But don’t just take my word for it: Mississippi’s own state economist cited human capital — including education, training, and health — as the greatest needs to power growth in Mississippi. 
Mississippi’s business community has also expressed clear concern about the impact of the income tax elimination on economic growth in Mississippi. Instead of income tax elimination, business leaders agree that a skilled workforce would secure Mississippi’s future and promote economic growth in the state.  Most Mississippians agree investments in public services like education, infrastructure, affordable healthcare, and economic development, not tax cuts, should be the top priority for state lawmakers. 

We need a tax system that protects state finances for long-term economic growth and opportunity. That requires ensuring the wealthy pitch in commensurate with their incomes, just like working families. 

Lawmakers in Jackson have a choice; They can spend our state’s much-needed resources on tax giveaways to those at the top. Or, they can to prioritize the needs of the people, the support of local communities, and Mississippi’s future. 

Our future is bright if we all pitch and contribute to our state’s shared prosperity. That’s why we oppose the tax cut giveaway to the wealthy. We urge our colleagues to stand with us. 

Mississippi Senate Minority Leader, Senator Derrick T. Simmons

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