2005 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Representative Watson, Stringer, Brown

House Resolution 69

(As Adopted by House)


     WHEREAS, the Mississippi Legislature is facing a budget crisis of unprecedented magnitude for fiscal year 2006, which will greatly jeopardize the essential services provided by all areas of state government, particularly in public education, Medicaid, mental health and public safety, if no action is taken; and

     WHEREAS, the House of Representatives recognizes that this financial crisis will require severe, even Draconian, cuts in the present levels of funding for state government, and the House believes that the enormity of the cuts would negatively impact each and every Mississippian--young and old, rich and poor, male and female, Black and White, north to south--sparing no one from the effects of the cuts; and

     WHEREAS, if the Legislature fails to raise revenues at the state governmental level, it is likely that our local governmental entities will be required to raise property and other taxes at the local level; and

     WHEREAS, during the 2005 Regular Session, the House has adopted and passed to the Senate several measures that would have mitigated the severity of those cuts by raising revenues from various sources, and those measures sent by the House to the Senate have all died in the Senate without favorable consideration, and are as follows:

     House Bill 410, sent to the Senate on February 2, 2005, which would have increased the current taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, to raise revenues of approximately $120 million for fiscal year 2006;

     House Bill 1409, sent to the Senate on February 11, 2005, which would have provided for new and increased fees to be charged by state agencies for services rendered, to raise revenues of approximately $55.7 million for fiscal year 2006;

     House Concurrent Resolution 85, sent to the Senate on March 10, 2005, which would have allowed the introduction of a new bill to raise revenue through increasing taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, to attempt once more to raise revenues for fiscal year 2006 by a tobacco tax; and

     WHEREAS, if the Senate had adopted these measures, the increased revenues that would have been raised for specific needs would have freed up other funds in the State General Fund that could have been used to mitigate the harshness of the cuts which definitely will have to occur if no significant revenues are raised for the next fiscal year; and

     WHEREAS, on March 22, 2005, philanthropist Jim Barksdale offered this state a $50,000,000.00 endowment, to be placed in escrow to provide a financial incentive directly to our young citizens to encourage them to graduate from high school and attend college, on the condition that the Legislature fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and the teacher pay raise, and the House believes that it is in the best interest of our constituents to accept this generous offer, which will require that additional revenues be raised for public education in fiscal year 2006; and

     WHEREAS, the House is willing to continue working on any reasonable measures that would provide additional revenues to fund the essential services of state government and is committed to reducing appropriations to all aspects of state government where such reductions can be reasonably made, and we urge our Senate  colleagues to be open-minded about increasing revenues and join the House in adopting such measures, including those that the House has already sent to them earlier this session:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we respectfully request the leadership and members of the Senate to take whatever actions necessary to adopt measures that will provide additional revenues to fund the essential services of state government during fiscal year 2006, including measures already transmitted to the Senate by the House earlier this session.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to the Senate and to the Capitol Press Corps.