Tag: Haley Barbour

State Tax Climates, Competitiveness, and Alas, Poor Illinois

In our continuing coverage of State of the State addresses today, we noted these comments from governors of two very different states, New Jersey and Mississippi.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “If we cannot shed regulations, reduce spending, and hold the line on taxes, we cannot attract and create the jobs our citizens so desperately need.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: “[Our] goal has to be to grow our economy faster than the nation as a whole, and we can do it. We have to focus on our advantages: low taxes, a friendly business climate, rational regulation, abundant natural resources and especially a first rate, affordable work force.”

Now comes Illinois, where lame-duck lawmakers approved Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to balance the state budget and raised the personal income tax by 67 percent! The state’s business tax will go up by 46 percent! The Huffington Post reports that, according to the The Tax Foundationthe hike would force Illinois businesses to pay the highest combined national-local corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

From The Chicago Tribune, “Quinn congratulates Democrats on income tax increase“:

A triumphant Gov. Pat Quinn congratulated fellow Democrats early today after the Illinois Senate and House sent him a major income tax increase without a single Republican vote in favor.

Quinn smiled and shook hands on the floor of the Senate around 1:30 a.m. after the Senate voted 30-29 for the bill, which would raise the personal income tax-rate by 67 percent and the business income tax rate by 46 percent.

If it’s a triumph, it’s of the Phyrric sort. Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana made two telling observations in interviews as reported in The Herald-Review, “Indiana governor says Illinois tax hike would be good news for his state“:

  • “We already had an edge on Illinois in terms of the cost of doing business, and this is going to make it significantly wider.”
  • “Folks in Illinois will eventually have to decide: Is this working well enough for us or do we want some-thing different? Point one of our anti-recession strategy here is to avoid doing what they’ve now decided to do.”
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Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Mississippi

Given the state of Mississippi’s record in creating an economic climate that attracts manufacturers and encourages their expansion, it comes as no surprise that Gov. Haley Barbour paid great attention to manufacturing in his final State of the State address delivered Tuesday.

The Republican governor also did an excellent job in linking economic growth to education and workforce development, highlighting the state’s new Department of Employment Security, the establishment of the Workforce Investment Board and the Workforce Enhancement Training or WET Fund. From the text:

Now, every year, the WET fund puts about $20 million into workforce development and skills training at our 15 community colleges, which do a great job. A study of graduates of WET-fund financed programs show they make $4,300 more per year than before that training, and our improved, skilled workforce as been a reason companies like Toyota, GE Aviation, PACCAR, Severstal and a long list of very hightech energy companies have come to Mississippi.

Coupled with workforce quality, the State has focused on attracting advanced manufacturing with advanced materials. We’ve targeted aerospace, automotive and energy, as well as service sectors. We’ve also beefed up our efforts to help existing businesses.

The results include a 27 percent increase in personal per capita income despite the recession. This is the 15th highest increase in the country over this six-year period.

The Governor pointed to specific examples of investment and hiring created by manufacturers taking advantage of Mississippi’s pro-business climate.
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The First Presidential Debate and Legal Reform

The first presidential debate takes place Friday in Oxford, Mississippi.

Oxford…Oxford…Oxford…Now whom is it we associate, lately, with Oxford, Mississippi?

Right. It’s the home of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, the giant among trial lawyers. Or at least it was until July.

What a perfect venue to debate the merits of tort reform and the economic damages caused by the plaintiff’s bar, kicked off with a discussion of the criminal excesses of Milberg Weiss, Bill Lerach, and Dickie Scruggs. Oxford would be a great setting to detail the differences between the presidential candidates on the causes and cures for the nation’s tort burden, one that costs a family of four nearly $9,000 a year. (From the Pacific Research Institute’s “Jackpot Justice” study.) 

The “Mississippi Miracle,” i.e., reforms of the state’s once egregious legal climate, would also be a fruitful  area to explore.

Unfortunately, the emphasis of this first debate between Senator McCain and Senator Obama is foreign policy, and it would abuse the format to argue the predations of the trial bar. It’s not completely off topic: U.S. attorneys looking for a big payday have supported an anti-American government in Equador and damaged  U.S.-Equador relations through abusive litigation against Chevron, and U.S. foreign policy has been undermined by suits against U.S. companies that did legitimate business in apartheid-era South Africa. But with Iraq and Afghanistan and trade and Russia’s international aggressiveness all making headlines, it’s unlikely moderators will ask questions drawing from the crimes of Oxford’s Dickie Scruggs.

However, domestic policy is on the table during the October 15th debate at Hofstra. The public should demand that candidates address tort reform as one of the evening’s issues.

 

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