February 26, 2014 10:09:49 AM
Tuesday, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill that would create something called "The Second Amendment Sales-Tax Holiday" because, well, let's face it, we simply cannot have too many guns and bullets.
House Bill 1404, sponsored by the appropriately-named Phillip Gunn, sailed through with a 86-27 vote, surviving an amendment that would have capped the sales-tax exemption at a limit of $100, which happens to be the limit applied to the state's back-to-school sales tax holiday. While there is a "reasonable" cap on parents buying crayons, backpacks and gym shorts, our legislators believe there should be nothing to deter citizens from arming themselves to the teeth without the onerous burden of paying sales tax on their arsenals.
Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said the proposal by Gunn, NRA-Clinton, will cost the state about $375,000 a year. We suspect Smith underestimates the state's enthusiasm for firepower. Yet, this goes beyond guns.
As we all know, Mississippi is drowning in revenue, so coughing up a trifling $375,000 in sales tax is no big deal.
We must have priorities, after all, and the Legislature's first priority is to pander to its base.
Even so, the sales-tax holiday is an intriguing idea now that we have all agreed that revenue is overrated.
But before the Senate votes on the Second Amendment Sales-Tax Holiday, we suggest it put some other tax holidays in place first, the kind that might actually mean something.
Let's see: Mississippi ranks first in the nation in child poverty. Thirty-five percent of our children live in homes whose income falls below the poverty rate. So how about a Food Sales-Tax Holiday?
Or how about this? Over the past four years, the Legislature has underfunded our K-12 education by more than a billion dollars, based on its own funding formula. What that means, among many other things, is teachers often pay for needed classroom supplies out of their own pockets. So how about a Teacher Supplies Sales-Tax Holiday?
Mississippi is the most obese state in the union, with an obesity rate of 34.9 percent. Almost 690,000 Mississippi adults are physically inactive, more than 770,000 adults are obese, and almost 280,000 adults have diabetes. Naturally, what is needed is a Gym Membership Sales-Tax Holiday.
On another front, we find Mississippi still leads the nation in teen birthrates. You may recall Gov. Phil Bryant, during his State of the State Address, crowed about how teen pregnancy has dropped by 10 percent in the state, implying, naturally, that he had something to do with it. What he conveniently neglected to mention is that while Mississippi's teen pregnancy rate fell 15 percent over the past 20 years, the national teen pregnancy rate fell by 39 percent. Way to go, Governor! Meanwhile, in 2010, the last year that data is available, teen mothers accounted for 55 out of every 1000 births in the state. Clearly, what is needed is a Contraceptives Sales-Tax Holiday.
Mississippi leads in the nation in adult illiteracy. Roughly 20 percent of our adults can't read. Let's have a Dick & Jane Reader Sales-Tax Holiday.
Yes, there are all sorts of sales-tax holidays that might, at least, make some sort of sense in that they would address a real problem our state faces.
A sales tax holiday for guns and ammo doesn't fit that criteria.
But it does demonstrate what our leaders really care about -- staying in office.
After all, pregnant teens don't fill those campaign coffers and hungry children don't give out legislative ratings.