Commonwealth of Greenwood. March 4, 2022.
Editorial: Medicaid expansion is better than tax cuts
While the Mississippi legislature emphasizes tax cuts as a way to boost the state’s economy and reverse its population decline, it continues to ignore the most powerful tool it has. has had for eight years: expanding Medicaid.
Recently, Bobby Harrison, one of the Capitol reporters for Mississippi Today, compared analyzes done five months apart by the nonpartisan state economist on the impacts of Medicaid expansion and the massive tax overhaul. championed by House Speaker Philip Gunn.
There is, in a word, no comparison. Extending Medicaid benefits to the working poor would do more for the state, at least for the first five years and probably indefinitely, than Gunn’s desire to eliminate personal income taxes, halve the cost of car tags, reduce tax on groceries while increasing sales tax on almost everything else.
Without wanting to get bogged down in numbers, a few of the two studies are worth highlighting.
– In 2024, the Medicaid expansion would create 2½ times more new jobs than the tax cut plan. Three years later, the difference would be 6 to 1.
By 2024, Medicaid expansion would increase the state’s gross domestic product — the total value of its goods and services — by nearly $800 million, more than double the impact of the US tax cut. bedroom. Again, the gap only grows over time. By 2027, Medicaid’s impact on GDP would be five times greater than tax cuts.
– While neither effort would do much on their own to increase the state’s population, even there, Medicaid expansion beats tax cuts by roughly the same margins.
The house plan, of course, isn’t the only tax cut plan in the works. The Senate has a more modest idea of how much revenue the Mississippi government can afford to give up. But logic dictates that if the most drastic (and riskiest) tax cut plan is a weaker economic driver than Medicaid expansion, it would also be the less dramatic alternative.
Proponents of the tax cut said the state could afford to do it — and raise teachers’ salaries by more than $200 million a year — because the state is currently overflowing with money. The problem is that this prosperity is not going to last, because much of it relies on a massive federal injection of coronavirus relief funds. Medicaid expansion, on the other hand, is the gift that would continue to be given, with the federal government pledging to meet at least 90% of the cost as long as the expansion law remains on the books – in d’ other words, most likely in perpetuity. .
Given the current budget surpluses, some tax relief is needed, such as the one-time reimbursement proposed by the Senate or a reduction in the tax on food products, as advocated by both chambers. But rather than going all out with tax cuts, as Gunn wants, it would be a much better long-term economic strategy to expand Medicaid, as all but a dozen states have already done.
The cost to Mississippi — and this is debatable, once all the effects of the Medicaid expansion trickle down to the economy, if there would be a cost at all — would be at worst about one-fifteenth of Gunn’s tax cut plan. The financial return would be significantly higher, and that’s not even counting the benefit of providing medical coverage to a few hundred thousand working adults.
How come most Republican leaders in this state don’t see that? Because they let the policy of Medicaid expansion blind them to rational analysis.
Tax cuts are a Republican priority, Medicaid expansion is a Democratic priority. No matter how much better the Democratic idea might be, most Mississippi Republicans simply refuse to consider it.
Dispatch Columbus. March 9, 2022.
Editorial: Spirit of Cooperation Benefits Both County and City
There was a day, not so long ago, when what George Irby proposed at Monday’s Lowndes County Board of Supervisors meeting would have been an exercise in futility.
Irby, in his role as Columbus’s acting director of urban planning and community development, appeared before supervisors on their Monday morning to seek financial support to address deteriorating conditions in the city.
In February, Irby asked the city council to dedicate $1 million — about 20% of the city’s ARPA funds — to blight control, an approved use of the funds. While substantial, the $1 million will not cover the full cost of the scheme, which would buy dilapidated properties from owners, clean them up and resell them to developers for new housing/commercial buildings.
On Monday, Irby asked supervisors to spend between $500,000 and $1 million on the program, which would represent between 4.5 and 9 percent of the county’s $11.2 million in ARPA funds.
Although the council took no action at Irby’s request on Monday, it was clear that supervisors are open to partnering with the city on the burn project, although it may not be at the level of funding requested by Irby.
District 1 supervisors Harry Sanders suggested a more appropriate contribution would be $300,000.
This number is obviously not set in stone, but it is a sign that the county and the city are at least negotiating again, which probably could not have been said 18 months ago.
A change in leadership in both the city and the county created a more cooperative environment. First, Trip Hairston replaced Sanders as Chairman of the Supervisory Board in October 2021, then in July Keith Gaskin replaced Robert Smith as Mayor.
Anyone familiar with city/county relations before these changes can remember the epic clashes between Sanders and Smith, whose forceful appearances often dominated the politics of their respective governments.
In 2017, the rancor between the two reached critical mass when the county pulled out of the joint parks and recreation department to form its own parks department. Bitter disputes over board appointments and the 2% restoration tax followed. At that point, there was no longer any relationship to speak of.
But the change in leadership marked a thaw in city/county relations. Shortly after Gaskin’s election, supervisors agreed to help the city’s public works department, which had fallen behind in clearing the debris. It was not a big commitment on the part of the county, but symbolically it signaled that the supervisors understood that they had a vested interest in the welfare of the city.
We believe that collaboration on the scourge would move from symbolic to tangible and perhaps open the door to future cooperation.
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks suggested that city and county officials meet next week to further discuss ways the two entities could combine APRA burn funds and explore other opportunities.
We cannot speculate on the outcome of this meeting, but we continue to be encouraged that the city and county continue to make progress in repairing their relationship, which benefits both county residents and the city.
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