JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn slightly modified his stance on tax reduction Tuesday as legislators opened their three-month session.
Instead of saying firmly that he will push to eliminate the state income tax, as he has done in the past, Gunn told reporters that he is open to discussions about many proposals to put money back into people’s pockets
During the 2022 session, legislators passed and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the state’s largest tax cut ever. Starting this year, the 4% income tax bracket is eliminated. Over the next three years, the 5% bracket will be reduced to 4%.
“Last year’s plan was a four-year phase-in,” Gunn said Tuesday. “Given the revenues that we’ve got coming in, we can probably squeeze that down to one year or maybe two — and get there quicker.”
Gunn also said he would also be willing to consider reducing the top income tax bracket to 3.75% or 3.5%, if total elimination of the tax is not possible. Gunn is not seeking reelection this year, so this is his final regular session as speaker of the 122-member House.
Legislative leaders were told in December that Mississippi has about a $1 billion surplus. But the state also has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and several rural hospitals are struggling with financial problems.
Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the 52-member Senate and is seeking reelection, has said he’s not in favor of eliminating the income tax because of uncertainty about where the economy is headed.
Hosemann said he’s open to an income tax rebate, which would not be a long-term change, or to a reduction in the state’s 7% grocery tax.
“We have positioned Mississippi to get ready for inflation and a recession,” Hosemann said Tuesday. “If that doesn’t come, that would be wonderful. But we will know that after 2026. We don’t know it today. And there are … many more demands on our dollars.”