For the past two administrations, Mississippi leaders have been championing a simple economic plan.
Light the economic fuse by cutting taxes and giving tax money to corporations, stand back and ka-fizzle. Then cut the budget and repeat.
Except for the occasional award from Obscure, the journal of the Up is Down Movement, there hasn’t been an abundance of good economic news about our state.
State economist Darren Webb recently told lawmakers not to expect the economy to get better any time soon. And state Treasurer Lynn Fitch wasn’t optimistic, either. She warned lawmakers about the debt that was piling up, but they didn’t listen.
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Now it appears they’ll need to put $7.6 million more toward debt service or the state will default on some of its loans on April Fool’s Day.
Shortly after receiving those reports, Gov. Phil Bryant had to whack the budget again. This time, not even education was spared in the $43 million, ahem, adjustment.
In years past, our state leaders could at least rely on that golden egg–laying goose known as Washington, simultaneously stuffing their pockets with federal tax dollars while decrying the incompetence of the administration. Now that goose is dead, run down somewhere on the back roads in the rural Midwest.
In the goose’s place nest the budget hawks of the GOP. Yes, the Republicans are in charge of every branch of government. And they say they’re sharpening their knives.
Still, it’s hard to tell what those hawks in Congress will do because, well, they haven’t really done anything. Unless you count dodging crowds of constituents as an accomplishment.
But President Donald Trump has made it pretty clear that he, with Congress’ help, is going to cut federal spending and reduce the size of the government.
Now one reason Mississippi has been able to keep its taxes low is the largesse of that federal government. The Tax Foundation said Mississippi relied on federal assistance for 40.9 percent of its revenue in 2014. That same year, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, federal spending in the state was $34 billion. They say we get about $3 for every $1 we send to D.C.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that will continue under Trump.
Our leaders have been asking for a more fiscally responsible Washington, D.C., so they should be prepared for the coming cuts. Right?
If by preparing you mean piling up debt and underfunding the state’s pension liabilities, they’re Boy Scouts.
At least they’ve been growing the economy by cutting corporate taxes.
Except, as the economic experts agree, the economy isn’t growing.
The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities two years ago concluded “the states that tried deep income tax cuts over the last three decades have not seen their economies surge as a result.”
It’s not too late for Mississippi to reverse course. Some of its biggest cuts haven’t taken effect.
Instead, though, the state has been trying an end around on the courts with its internet sales tax — a tax that, like its 7 percent sales tax, would hit hardest the families least able to afford it.
Our officials have been warned. They have be given an explanation. And still they persist.