FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2007

CONTACT: TERRY R. CASSREINO
Phone:
(601) 969-2913
E-mail:
cassreino@msdemocrats.net
Barbour, Robertson shoulder blame
for death of bill to cut sales tax

JACKSON (Tuesday, March 13, 2007) – Republicans Haley Barbour and Tommy Robertson have shown total disdain for all Mississippians by the death of a legislative proposal that would have reduced the state sales tax on groceries.

House Bill 247, which also would have raised the state cigarette tax, died today when state Sen. Tommy Robertson refused to let the Senate Finance Committee he chairs consider it. Gov. Haley Barbour also vowed to veto the bill; he vetoed two similar bills last year.

“Voters will no doubt hold Haley Barbour and Tommy Robertson accountable,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “Their actions mean Mississippians will get no tax relief this year.”

This year’s bill, which passed the state House of Representatives last month, would have cut in half the state sales tax on groceries from 7 cents to 3½ cents on the dollar. The bill also would have raised the cigarette tax from 18 cents to $1 a pack.

State Rep. Jamie Franks of Mooreville, a staunch supporter of the grocery tax-cigarette tax proposal, said the bill’s death this year and the veto of similar bills last year is linked to Barbour’s previous job as a tobacco lobbyist in Washington.

Robertson supported the two grocery tax proposals during the 2006 legislative session; he changed his position this year. Robertson, a Moss Point attorney, received a $1.2 million contract last year for hurricane-related work from a state agency Barbour controls.

“We all know money talks,” said Franks, a Democrat who is running in this year’s state elections for lieutenant governor. “But money should not influence whether senators will vote on giving the people tax relief.”

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