Governor Bryant Signs Measure to Provide Tax Relief to Employers Who Hire Veterans
Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn to provide tax relief to employers who hire unemployed veterans. House Bill 33, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, provides tax credits to employers who hire honorably discharged military veterans who have served on active duty on or after 9/11 and who have been unemployed for at least six months. Click here for more.
Senators Cochran and Wicker Vote to Approve Anti-Trafficking Bill
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker voted in favor of landmark legislation to combat human trafficking in the United States. The bill, “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act,” S. 178, would broaden protections for victims and hold traffickers and purchasers equally accountable for their crimes. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 99-0. Click here for more.
Treasurer Lynn Fitch Returning Unclaimed Funds
State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is seeking to return more than $31 million in unclaimed utility deposits, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and inheritances to rightful owners. Click here for more.
Former Governor Barbour Talks Two-Party System at Jackson State University
Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour spoke at Jackson State University as part of the Mike Espy Scholars-in-Residence Series on the topic of the two-party political system. Among other points discussed, Gov. Barbour contended that the Democratic Party has taken the African-American vote for granted and urged African-American students to consider the Republican Party as an option. Click here for more.
MSGOP Executive Director: Mississippi Democrats Peddling False Narrative on Republicans and Education Policy
MSGOP Executive Director Spencer Ritchie wrote a column about Democratic leaders in Mississippi pushing a false narrative about Republicans and education policy as part of their election-year strategy. Click here for more.
Mississippi Federal Delegation Wins Fight to Keep “Flying Jennies” in Mississippi
Following more than three years of working with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Senators Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker, and Congressman Steven Palazzo celebrated an Air Force decision to abandon plans to deactivate the 815th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, which would have transferred the squadron’s 10 C-130J transport aircraft to another state. Click here for more.
Governor Bryant Signs Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act into Law
Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (Senate Bill 2695). The Act will provide a $6,500 scholarship to participating students. The funds can be used for expenses like educational therapies, tutoring and tuition at a private school when the public school in which the student is enrolled is not meeting his or her needs. Gov. Jeb Bush, former head of The Foundation for Excellence in Education, supported the measure and attending the bill signing ceremony. Click here for more.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice Praises Mississippi Education Reform under Gov. Bryant
Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Board Chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, praised Governor Bryant and the Mississippi Legislature for their leadership in expanding school choice in Mississippi. “Mississippi is quickly becoming the next great American success story in education,” proclaimed Dr. Rice. Click here for more.
Senator Wicker Appointed to Budget Conference
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, was appointed to be a conferee on the House-Senate committee responsible for ironing out differences between the chambers’ budget resolutions. Click here for more.
Each year on April 15th we are reminded of just how much of our hard-earned money is sent to Washington, D.C. and spent by federal bureaucrats. April 15th also now reminds us of how badly Obamacare needs to be repealed.
Our state Party platform effectively communicates the Republican view on taxes. It provides:
- Mississippi Republicans believe that people, not government, know best how to spend their own money. When people keep more of their hard-earned money, jobs and economic growth will flourish in the free market system.
- Mississippi Republicans support the reduction of the tax burden on our citizens. We believe our tax burden is too high, our tax code too complicated, and our tax system inefficient.
- We believe in the reduction of taxes to empower taxpayers, to create a more competitive environment for job creation, to incentivize work, entrepreneurship, and investment, and to prevent the excessive growth of government.
- We support a comprehensive overhaul of our federal tax code to address the problems of the current system, to stimulate economic growth and to establish a firm, fair and equitable foundation for collecting revenues to pay for essential government services.
- We support eliminating the three-fifths super-majority requirement to reduce taxes, which would allow a simple majority in our legislature to lessen government’s burden on taxpayers.
Last month, Mississippi Democrats in the state House voted almost unanimously to kill a $555 million tax relief plan backed by Republicans leaders. The Republican tax relief plan would have, among other things: eliminated the 3 percent and 4 percent tax brackets levied on income, reduced the overall tax burden on small business owners, and removed the investment penalty, or franchise tax, on businesses’ property and capital. Eliminating the franchise tax alone would have grown the state’s GDP by $282 million and added 3,514 jobs within 10 years, according to a Mississippi State University study.
NOW is the time for Republicans in Mississippi to unite and replace these Democrats in the elections this fall. Let’s not let another Tax Day pass without doing something to help elect Republicans who will give Mississippi taxpayers and small business owners more of their own money back to them and attract job creators to our state. Visit www.msgop.org to contribute and sign up to be a part of our Victory 2015 team.
Today marks the conclusion of the Mississippi Legislature’s 2015 regular session. Republican legislators return home to their districts having passed a number of important measures and conservative policies signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant.
Balanced Budget and Record School Funding
The Legislature ended the 2015 session with a balanced $6.2 billion budget that spends recurring revenue on recurring expenses, fills the Rainy Day Fund and invests in priority needs. Public schools will see a record level of funding under a $2.52 billion budget. Education funding increased by $288 million in programs that directly impact classrooms over four years. The Legislature has increased support for teacher pay raises, reading coaches, prekindergarten, National Board Certified Teachers, teacher supply funds, school safety programs and vocational education. The budget also includes increases for the state’s public community and junior colleges and for its public universities.
Increased Opportunities for Special Needs Students
Mississippi will be the third state in the nation to offer school choice to children with disabilities. The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (Senate Bill 2695) creates a pilot program to provide special needs students with scholarships to pay for educational expenses. The measure will provide a $6,500 scholarship to participating students, and the funds can be used for expenses like educational therapies, tutoring and tuition at a private school when the public school in which the student is enrolled is not meeting his or her needs. Currently, just slightly more than 20 percent of special needs students graduate from high school.
Protecting Second Amendment Rights and Public Safety
The 2015 legislative session resulted in new protections for Mississippi gun-owners and increased support for public safety. Senate Bill 2394 reduces the fee on concealed carry permits, clarifies that such permits are not needed to carry a non-holstered pistol or revolver in a fully enclosed case, such as a purse or briefcase, and establishes a certain classification for honorably retired law enforcement officers. Senate Bill 2619 recognizes military service for carrying an enhanced concealed carry permit, exempts members of the National Guard or Reserve units from state residency requirements for such permits, and protects Mississippians from overregulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on commonly used rifle ammunition. Senate Bill 2500 authorizes a pay increase for on-the-road troopers in the Mississippi Highway Patrol and agents at the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Finally, the budget allocates $200 million in revenue bonds that will help fund road and bridge repairs throughout the state.
Government Contracting Reform
The Legislature passed bills tightening the rules on how agencies contract with vendors. House Bill 825 places restrictions on contracting laws, increases scrutiny on government purchases, and tightens regulations on sole-source contracts. The bill remakes the Personal Service Contract Review Board, requires a review of procurement practices once every two years by the legislative watchdog committee, and ensures pricing details and terms of contracts are public records. Senate Bill 2400 places restrictions on emergency contracts issued by agencies.
- A measure making Mississippi the third state seeking to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget (SB 2389).
- A measure eliminating vehicle inspection stickers (House Bill 982).
- A measure to increase transparency at publicly owned hospitals (Senate Bill 2407).
- A measure to waive out-of-state college tuition for eligible military veterans and their eligible dependents (Senate Bill 2127).
- A $20 million investment to upgrade the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula and $6 million in the expansion of Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.
- A measure restricting Mississippi’s financial involvement with any person or company that conducts significant energy-related business with Iran (House Bill 1127).
- A measure calling upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama to withdraw its intrusive clean power plan (Senate Concurrent Resolution 637).
House Democrats voted to kill what would have been the largest tax cut in state history. The $555 million tax relief plan proposed by Republicans and backed by Gov. Bryant would have, among other things: eliminated the 3 percent and 4 percent tax brackets levied on income, reduced the overall tax burden on small business owners, and removed the investment penalty, or franchise tax, on businesses’ property and capital. Eliminating the franchise tax alone would have grown the state’s GDP by $282 million and added 3,514 jobs within 10 years, according to a Mississippi State University study. As a tax measure, the House needed a 3/5 vote (72 members) to send the legislation to Gov. Bryant for his signature, the legislation having already been passed by the Senate. All 66 House Republican members voted for the tax cut; only one Democrat did.
Retiring Republican Legislators
The following Republicans are retiring from the Legislature following the 2015 session:
Rep. Rita Martinson (Madison, served from 1991-2015)
Rep. Bobby Howell (Kilmichael, served from 1991-2015)
Rep. Brian Aldridge (Tupelo, served from 2003-2015)
Rep. Hank Lott (Sumrall, served from 2011-2015)
Rep. Tommy Taylor (Boyle, served from 2011-2015)
Sen. Perry Lee (Mendenhall, served from 2003-2015)
Sen. Giles Ward (Louisville, served from 2007-2015)
Sen. Tony Smith (Picayune, served from 2011-2015)
The MSGOP is grateful to these individuals for their years of service to our state and in furtherance of conservative policies. We wish them and their families well as they move on to future endeavors.