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Mississippi legislators work toward tax and budget deadline

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House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, left, listens as Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann closes a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Friday, March 25, 2022 at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, left, listens as Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann closes a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Friday, March 25, 2022 at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

AP

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Mississippi legislators spent Saturday at the state Capitol as they faced deadlines to file final versions of tax and budget bills.

Much of what they did was hurry up and wait.

Speaker Philip Gunn held a closed-door strategy session with members of his own leadership team as the House was on a break.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann presides over the Senate. But during that break, Hosemann walked to the other end of the Capitol and spent several minutes chatting with representatives on the House floor.

Both Gunn and Hosemann declined to talk to reporters about the status of tax and budget discussions by midday.

Gunn and Hosemann are both Republicans, and they have been at odds over tax-cut proposals the past several weeks.

Gunn and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves want to phase out Mississippi’s income tax over several years. Hosemann has sought a more cautious plan to reduce, but not eliminate, the income tax and to reduce the grocery tax and temporarily suspend the state gasoline tax.

Mississippi’s income tax generates 34% of state revenue, and the poorest residents would see no gain from eliminating the income tax because they are not paying it now.

Although Mississippi remains one of the poorest states in the nation, it is one of several states that have had higher-than-expected tax collections in recent months, partly because of federal pandemic spending.

Lobbyists and state agency leaders were at the Capitol to keep watch on budgets as a Saturday night deadline approached for final versions of money bills to be filed. Legislators were expected to allocate about $7 billion in state money, plus billions more federal dollars, for the year that begins July 1.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.





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