Mississippi Republicans who are running for office got the best possible news this week in a report from the Legislative Budget Office.
The state’s tax revenues for the current fiscal year are 4.5 percent higher than they were during the prior year. That number may not sound like much, but in dollars it translates to an extra $224 million for Mississippi over the past 11 months (the fiscal year ends June 30).
The figures are impressive across the board. Income taxes paid by corporations are up $65 million, and “use taxes,” mostly paid by companies as well, are up $46 million.
Sales tax collections, the category that brings in the most money for the state, is nearly $54 million higher than a year ago. Individual taxpayers have sent the state an extra $53 million this year, too.
Legislative budget writers had anticipated higher tax collections over the past year, and they raised general fund spending for 2020 by $193 million. If tax revenues for this month also show a gain, the budget will have underestimated the state’s available money by $35 million or more.
This is music to the ears of Republican lawmakers and statewide candidates. The Legislature and Gov. Phil Bryant deservedly took a lot of heat a couple of years ago when they reduced a variety of taxes and the state’s collections continually failed to meet revenue projections. The governor had to make mid-year budget cuts several times over two years.
The increased tax revenue can only be coming from an improved state economy. It’s hard to tell whether this is due to the state’s conservative taxing and budgeting policies, or to the impressive results being generated by the national economy. Perhaps its a combination of the two.
But one thing’s for sure: Reports like this allow Republicans to say they’ve got Mississippi heading in the right direction. And that’s going to make it more difficult for Democrats to reclaim a share of power in Jackson.