The 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session may have just wrapped up last Thursday, but leaders are already outlining their top priorities for the 2022 session.
While a teacher pay raise, criminal justice reform measures and several other impactful bills made it to the governor’s desk, a measure championed by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and another by Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann did not.
Gunn’s proposal to eliminate the income tax in Mississippi over a 10-year period captured headlines upon its introduction, but concerns over “unintended consequences” in the Senate led to the bill’s demise. Last-minute attempts to revive and amend the piece of legislation, that would’ve also raised the sales tax to 9.5%, failed as well. Asked about the future of the bill, Gunn made it clear that this issue will be brought to the floor in 2022.
“The future is, that is THE issue moving forward,” Gunn emphatically emphasized. “There is no bigger issue in my mind than income tax elimination. I have told my staff, I’ve told my legislators, there is nothing from a policy standpoint that I think we can ever do that will benefit the citizens more than the elimination of the income tax. It is the biggest issue in any of our political careers, and it is my main focus moving forward into next year.”
Despite support from several prominent economists, Senate leaders, including the Lt. Governor, stressed that they needed more time to study the proposal over the summer. A resolution was passed in the interest of creating a committee to study the state’s tax structure.
Hosemann’s proposal wasn’t quite as flashy but sought to rewrite the state’s business incentive program. MFlex, according to Hosemann, aimed to “arm our economic developers with the tools they needed to attract businesses.” He explained that the program would’ve consolidated current incentive offerings to expedite the process of laying out benefits to businesses planning on locating or expanding in Mississippi.
The bill to create MFlex unanimously passed the Senate before it died in the House. Like Gunn, Hosemann isn’t ready to put his proposal on the back burner.
“You should assume that will be job one coming back next year,” Hosemann said. “We anticipate that providing a simplified, easily understood process where an individual company could determine what benefits they would have coming to Mississippi done in an expedited way without having to hire 87 consultants to do it was very important.”
Hosemann noted that economic developers and prospective businesses had supported the proposal.