Dr. Michael Forster

New tax cuts may lock in state’s top rank in austerity and poverty

It’s July, and the biggest tax cuts in Mississippi history (passed during the 2016 legislative session) are starting to kick in.  The deceptively dubbed “Taxpayer Pay Raise Act” is a sweet deal for corporations and higher income individual earners, but not nearly so much for low to moderate earners (i.e. most of us working Mississippians).  It’s the culmination of years of sustained, well-funded special interest lobbying intended to make Mississippi “business friendly.”

Though the ostensible aim of the cuts is to attract new business investment to the state – and hence jobs, revenue, and general prosperity – the majority opinion of economists, including state economist Darrin Webb, is that the long-term impact will be a net loss of revenue, something poorly resourced Mississippi can ill afford.

Not a problem, say top tax cut cheerleaders like Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the odds-on favorite to succeed Phil Bryant as governor, because the state is skilled at slashing expenditures to align with revenues that fall short of projections.  But accomplishing that alignment already comes at an unbearably high cost in terms of devastating cuts to the “commons”: public education, health, mental health, public safety, and environmental protection among the casualties.

Mississippi’s public agencies are already dangerously underfunded, to the point that their missions are sharply curtailed, if not subverted.  Real people are experiencing real suffering, and tax cuts for corporations and the well-off will only make matters worse.  Austerity begets poverty, which begets more austerity, and onward in a downward spiral.  This is an ugly pig that no amount of lipstick can pretty up.

 

Dr. Michael Forster
Dr. Michael Forster

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