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Don’t expect Barbour to offer tax cuts

JACKSON (Wednesday, March 14, 2007) – Don’t hold your breath for Republican Haley Barbour to unveil what he has described as “major tax cuts” because Mississippi’s governor is two-faced on major issues.

Barbour always says one thing, but does something completely different. He says he supports cutting taxes, but he vetoed two bills last year and staunchly opposed another this year to reduce or eliminate the state sales tax on groceries.

“Now, all of a sudden, Haley expects all Mississippians to believe his halfhearted pledge that he plans to unveil a mysterious, unspecified tax-cut package?” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

“Haley has no details because he has no plan,” Dowdy said. “This is an election-year ploy to divert attention away from his role in killing legislative proposals this year and last year to cut the state sales tax on groceries. Well, guess what? It won’t work.”

Barbour vetoed two proposals during the 2006 legislative session, one to eliminate the state tax of 7 cents on the dollar charged on the purchase of groceries and the other to reduce the tax. Both also would have raised the state’s cigarette tax.

This year, Barbour promised to veto a similar proposal that would have reduced the state’s grocery tax from 7 cents to 3½ cents on the dollar and raised the cigarette tax to $1 a pack. In the process, families that spend $150 a week on groceries would have saved $273 a year.

The bill passed the state House last month. It died on Tuesday when Republican state Sen. Tommy Robertson – a Barbour ally from Moss Point – refused to let the Senate Finance Committee he chairs consider the bill.

Barbour claims he wants to see how Mississippi’s economy fares in the wake of Hurricane Katrina before he offers any tax-cut proposals. But the sales tax bills he helped kill this year and last year had nothing to do with Katrina; each proposal was a “tax swap.”

Even a study by the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University said the tax swap would have generated more revenue because Mississippians would have used their tax savings to purchase more taxable goods.

“Mississippi needs a governor with a vision, one who shoots straight and one who tells the truth,” Dowdy said. “We don’t need someone who purposely misleads the public with empty promises in an election year.”

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