Friday, January 20, 2006

PRESS CLIPPINGS: Friday, January 20, 2006

1. The Senate and House are moving sooner rather than later to ease fears of our cities over the loss of a grocery tax base. The bottom line: Cutting the grocery tax is good social policy, and the Legislature will make the cities whole.
Bill aims to ease Senate fears over cigarette tax bill - The Clarion-Ledger:
State senators will consider a bill today linked to the controversial measure hiking cigarette taxes while phasing out the tax on groceries.

House Bill 1140, which narrowly passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, has been thrown into the battle between Gov. Haley Barbour and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck about the proposal to shift the tax burden from groceries to cigarettes.
2. Good question: Who will be the floppers? Good point: They'll be reminded of it in the grocery store line.
The floppers - The Clarion-Ledger:
So, the question now is: Who will be the floppers?

Which senators will flip flop on their original vote to raise tobacco taxes and give a tax break on food?

Barbour is claiming the bill would cost the state and the cities revenue, that it is not a wash. Tuck disputes the governor's numbers. But the numbers debate misses the real issue. Is this good tax policy or not? Clearly, it is.

Barbour's success as governor has depended on his control of the Senate. Tuck's power as lieutenant governor is being tested. This is high-stakes politics.

So, who will be the floppers? This is likely a vote that they will be long be reminded of while standing in the grocery store checkout line.
3. Senate Democrats have joined with a group of Senate Republicans led by Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck to fight Gov. Barbour's disinformation campaign about the grocery tax. Now, I can understand why a former tobacco lobbyist had rather tax milk that Marlboros, but what about all of these Republican Senators who want to do it. And there are even a few guys who call themselves Democrats. That's just too bad...
Tuck comes out swinging on tax bill -
"All his figures are wrong - not a little bit wrong, but more than five times wrong," said Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Tommy Robertson, R-Moss Point, said it is important to remember that the grocery tax accounts for about 14 percent of the total sales tax collected on retail items. He has said he believes the sales tax revenue on other retail items would grow much faster once the tax on food is eliminated.

Asked when she planned to take up the veto message, Tuck said she is focused right on getting the right numbers to members of the Senate.
4. The Greenwood Commonwealth reminds us that it was not Tuck who began the fight for a healthier Mississippi by being among the first advocating for a hike in the cigarette tax.
Greenwood Commonwealth - Opinion - 01/19/2006 - Whittington gets deserved credit:
Rather, the most steadfast legislative champion of the tax increase has been Leflore County's own May Whittington. Since at least 2002, the Democratic representative from Schlater has supported efforts to hike the pitifully low amount that Mississippi charges on cigarettes. Slowly her side has been winning the day, with Tuck jumping on board this year and adding a twist - a companion tax cut on groceries - that could finally give the idea the political muscle to get by Barbour's opposition.

A former smoker and a cancer survivor, Whittington is a compelling spokesman for raising the cigarette tax. She knows that the hike would be doubly beneficial - generating much-needed money for the state treasury while pricing young people out of the life-shortening habit.


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