Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, preparing for a re-election campaign, has hinted that residents of his state might see a tax cut, but not on groceries, according to an article on Clarion-Ledger.com. Barbour met with the editorial board of the Clarion and discussed the issue of his re-election and state-related topics.
When asked if he believed in a tax on groceries, Barbour was quoted by the Clarion as saying, “I do.” He pointed out the fact that approximately 450,000 Mississippians, 15% of the state’s citizens, already do not pay a grocery tax because they receive food stamps. The sales tax is not levied on food stamp recipients. The state charges 7% on grocery sales, the highest rate in the nation, according to the Clarion.
The grocery tax is just part of a discussion of taxes in the state, which has gone through some rough times in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. “We need to look at the entire tax system, what Mississippians pay to the state government, the federal government and local governments,” the Clarion quoted Barbour. “Whatever adjustments we make need to be within the total framework.”
The revenue situation had been affected by a recent decline in affordable insurance and a downturn in the housing market. The Clarion notes that there has been an improvement in affordable housing, but, according to a statement by state economist Phil Pepper, “We’re looking at a 10-year time frame to get the Coast up and going.” Barbour says that a major tax cut would be part of “significant tax reform.” He did not specify where the cut would come, however, or when it would come.
In his discussion with the Clarion, Barbour pointed to figures that support his assertion that housing has turned a corner. Although there are 80,000 people living in federal travel trailers, because they can’t afford either to rebuild or to find affordable rental property, Barbour reports that many people have been able to rebuild and that he, as governor, has proposed plans to build 5000 small rental units. Another state program is giving grants to qualified low-income homeowners.
With regard to Barbour’s re-election campaign, the Clarion reports that Barbour has already raised a total of $6.1 million–$3.4 million in just the past four months-compared with a total of $1.3 million raised by his opponent, Democrat front-runner John Arthur Eaves Jr. According to Eaves spokeswoman, Sharon Garrison, Eaves will focus his campaign on helping the “hardworking, taxpaying, God-fearing people of Mississippi achieve a better quality of life.”