Lt. Gov. Reeves, Speaker Gunn Announce Effort to Move Toward Comprehensive Budget and Tax Reform
JACKSON – Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant today outlined their shared goal of taking a critical examination of state tax policy and agency expenditures.
Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Reeves will serve as co-chairmen of a legislative panel to review tax policy and provide recommendations to the Legislature. The first meeting of the legislative tax review panel will be Aug. 1, with recommendations anticipated to be considered in the 2017 session.
Members include Representative Shane Aguirre, R-Tupelo; Judiciary A/En Banc Chairman Mark Baker, R-Brandon; Energy Chairwoman Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia; Revenue and Expenditure General Bills Chairman Mark Formby, R-Picayune; Representative Chris Johnson, R-Hattiesburg; Representative Robert Johnson, D-Natchez; Representative Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia; Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus; Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport; and Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall; Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale; Highways and Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland; Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency Chairman John Polk, R-Hattiesburg; Senate Pro Tempore Terry C. Burton, R-Newton; Senate Public Health and Welfare Chairman Dean Kirby, R-Pearl; Senate Elections Chairman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven; Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven; and Senator Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg.
A designee appointed by the Governor will also serve on this working group.
“On the budget side, our goal is to examine how our tax dollars are spent and if those expenditures line up with our priorities,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “On the tax side, we want to examine the entire tax structure and develop a comprehensive plan that is both fair and provides a more solid stream of revenue.”
The process will complement newly created working groups where lawmakers will examine spending for the state’s largest agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Corrections, Public Safety and Education; the Division of Medicaid, Institutions of Higher Learning, community colleges, boards and commissions, state facilities, and information technology consolidation.
“Taxpayers want to know their hard-earned dollars are being spent efficiently on state services, and they expect their elected leaders to ensure priority needs are being met,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. “These groups will provide valuable ongoing information that will help the Legislature when finalizing budgets and looking for opportunities to allow Mississippians to keep more money in their pockets.”
Under Republican leadership, the Legislature has eliminated many taxes to improve Mississippi’s competitive advantage with other states. In the past five years, lawmakers have passed bills to reduce personal income taxes and unemployment taxes, and eliminate the inventory and franchise taxes on Mississippi businesses.
“With the Legislature’s help, we’ve been able to focus on growing our state’s economy through meaningful tax relief, but we know there is more to do,” said Gov. Phil Bryant. “I look forward to seeing recommendations to streamline government and direct more funds to programs that work.”