Business friendly is one thing; depriving residents of services, infrastructure another

Published 8:31 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

Glenn McCullough, who heads the Mississippi Development Authority, told members of the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce that business is great in Mississippi and getting better all the time.

He touted a number of manufacturing success stories here, like the Nissan and Toyota plants in Canton, the shipbuilding industry in Pascagoula, work in space exploration at the Stennis Space Center and the soon to be developed Continental Tire plant just across the border in Hinds County.

For those of us who love Mississippi and want it to thrive, McCullough’s talk was much needed.

Yet one is left to wonder, if things are so great for businesses and corporations in Mississippi, why are Mississippi’s individual and corporate tax revenues falling so short of projection and the state’s budget needs?

On June 1, Mississippi faced a $154 million tax revenue shortfall from expected collections in the month of May. And that seems to be a trend.

That revenue shortfalls mean continued funding cuts for much-needed governmental services, like providing for our mentally ill or rebuilding crumbling infrastructure or adequately funding public education.

In May of 2016, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the largest tax cut in Mississippi history, expected to reduce taxes further for corporations and the wealthiest of Mississippians by more than $416 million over the next 12 years.

Many are eagerly awaiting the construction and opening of the Continental Tire plant in Bolton and hope to get a portion of $1.45 billion it plans to spend to create the facility.

However, critics say Mississippians will never recoup the $600 million in bonds, tax breaks and other incentives taxpayers will spend on the Continental Tire project.

At what point are we simply giving away the farm?

We want Mississippi to be a business friendly state. However, we owe our citizens a decent level of governmental services and infrastructure investment.

We aren’t meeting those basic benchmarks now.