Our View: Poll: Mississippians open to tax hike for roads/bridges and schools




The idea of raising taxes is popular nowhere. Rare is the politician who even hints at such a thing on the campaign trail. 


If you are old enough, one example in Mississippi probably stands out still today. In 1991, Kirk Fordice defeated incumbent Ray Mabus, behind the campaign slogan "Ray's Raising Taxes." It worked to perfection. Mabus, whose focus on education culminated with a teacher pay raise that briefly brought the state's teachers pay up to the Southeastern average and had argued for sweeping education reform, was swept out of office and the state' educational system has been in a state of steady decline ever since. 


No campaign would ever admit to raising taxes, although politicians fall over themselves to promote tax cuts on the campaign trail. 


But the idea of raising taxes is not always considered heresy. Overnight Wednesday, an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, the first in-depth polling sample of Mississippians in years, showed that there is popular sentiment for raising taxes to improve our roads/bridges and our K-12 education. 


Our legislature has struggled to make progress on either of these issues over the past several years, largely because any real progress on either issue requires money, perhaps a lot of money -- money the state simply doesn't have. 


There is little meaningful that can be achieved in addressing these issues short of raising taxes, yet it is something our legislative leaders remain reluctant to pursue. 


Yet according to the NBC poll, Mississippians strongly support raising taxes to improve roads/bridges and our education. By an almost 2-to-1 margin, Mississippians polled said they would support a tax increase to repair our roads/bridges infrastructure. Similarly, 60 percent of those polled said they would support a tax increase to improve our schools. 


For years now, our legislature has toiled in a vain effort to fix these problems on the cheap. By now, surely all the ideas about quick, easy fixes have been exhausted. The days of gimmicks and diversions are now over. 


It is time our legislators bite the bullet and raise taxes to support these efforts. 


If this poll is an indicator, Mississippians are ready to face that reality and will support these tax increase.



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