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Speaker Jason White names members of committee to explore state tax cuts 


Speaker Jason White names members of committee to explore state tax cuts 

Jun 03, 2024 | 3:06 pm ET
By Taylor Vance
Speaker Jason White names members of committee to explore state tax cuts聽

Most states either exempt the sales tax on food or have a tax on food lower than their levy on other retail items.

House Speaker Jason White on Friday announced that 18 House members will explore ways to reduce the state’s grocery and personal income taxes ahead of the 2025 legislative session, making tax policy a top priority.

White, a Republican from West, said in a statement that he feels confident the appointees will thoroughly study current state laws and tax structures to make informed recommendations for next year’s session. 

“The House will continue its pursuit of bold initiatives and policies to improve our great state, focusing on the betterment of Mississippi and all of her citizens,” White said. 

The select tax committee will have two primary leaders: House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar, a Republican from Senatobia, and House Appropriations B Chairman Scott Bounds, a Republican from Philadelphia. 

The committee is expected to hold hearings sometime in the fall or summer, but it’s unclear when exactly the group will meet to hear testimony from advocates and policy experts. 

White previously told reporters he would like to see the state’s 7% grocery tax, the highest statewide tax of its kind in the nation, be cut at least in half as soon as possible. He also said his goal would be to completely eliminate the personal income tax, which provides just under one-third of the state’s general fund revenue. But he said that would be done over time.

The speaker also wants to provide the state Department of Transportation with a new revenue stream to fund infrastructure. Infrastructure maintenance is currently funded through an 18.4-cents-per-gallon fuel tax. But MDOT officials have argued for years that they need more money for new road and bridge projects and maintenance.

The speaker also wants to continue fully funding public K-12 education under the new school funding formula he championed earlier this year. But White told reporters last month that he believes the state still has the capacity to implement more tax cuts. 

“As we look at tax cuts, that’s not about cutting education systems or public safety or MDOT or anything else,” White said then. “It’s about living within our means and figuring out what taxpayers expect from government.” 

The speaker appointed 12 Republicans, five Democrats and one independent to sit on the select tax committee. To successfully get a tax cut measure through the Capitol would require approval from three-fifths of lawmakers in both chambers. 

If White, who holds enormous power in the 122-member House, shows that a tax cut measure is one of his top priorities for the 2025 session, it’s almost certain he can get his fellow Republicans, who make up a supermajority in the chamber, to fall in line on the issue. 

But the larger question is whether he and House leadership can convince the Republican-majority Senate, led by Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, to agree to a tax cut plan along with Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has continued to advocate for eliminating the income tax. 

When former House Speaker Philip Gunn pushed a proposal through the Capitol in 2022 that abolished the income tax over time, reduced the grocery tax and increased the sales tax on certain goods, it was met with pushback from Reeves and Senate Republicans.

The Senate resisted that proposal because its leadership believed the state could not afford to completely abolish the tax. Reeves threw cold water on the proposal because he did not agree with a proposal that raised any type of tax, regardless of whether the proposal resulted in a net tax reduction. 

Despite the two leaders’ cold reception of Gunn’s previous proposal, White is optimistic that a consensus on tax reduction can be reached for the 2025 session. He pointed out that Hosemann has expressed support for reducing the grocery tax, while Reeves has been a vocal advocate of phasing out the income tax.

White, currently in his first term as speaker, also appointed members to the committee on compilation, revision and publication; the PEER committee, which is the Legislature’s investigative committee; a select committee on prescription drugs; and a select committee on reforming certificate of need laws. 

Here are the House members White appointed to the select tax committee:

  • CO-CHAIR: Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia
  • CO-CHAIR: Scott Bounds, R-Philadelphia
  • Jansen Owen, R-Poplarville
  • Karl Oliver, R-Winona
  • Shane Aguirre, R-Tupelo
  • Clay Deweese, R-Oxford
  • Angela Cockerham, I-Magnolia
  • Billy Adam Calvert, R-Meridian
  • Kevin Felsher, R-Biloxi
  • Randy Rushing, R-Decatur
  • Lee Yancey, R-Brandon
  • Hester McCray, D-Horn Lake
  • Dana McLean, R-Columbus
  • Ronnie Crudup, Jr., D-Jackson
  • Otis Anthony, D-Indianola
  • Lawrence Blackmon, D-Canton
  • Justin Keen, R-Byhalia
  • Tracey Rosebud, D-Tutwiler