Lawmakers stress job-creation bills

With the recession’s effect still strong in Mississippi, legislators are taking a hard look at job-creation proposals as the 2010 session heads into its final month.

Several bills designed to stimulate economic development are pending. House Ways and Means Chair Percy Watson and Senate Finance Chair Dean Kirby said the answer to the state’s declining revenue collections is to find employment for the thousands who have lost jobs, not to impose new taxes to generate revenue.

“The experts say that when you are in a recession or trying to recover from a recession, it’s not a good idea to increase taxes. It would have the effect of hurting the economy,” Watson said.

Kirby, a Republican from Pearl, said, “There are no new bills originating in the Senate that will raise taxes, none at all.”

The state’s jobless rate is 10.3 percent, and a number of plants have closed recently.

Delphi ended production at its Clinton plant in February. It once employed 300. In December, Air Cruisers, which manufactured emergency life vests and other items, announced it would close its plant in Liberty.

Mississippi consumers have responded to the tight economy by holding onto their cash. The state’s tax collections have come in under projections for the past 18 months, leading Gov. Haley Barbour to cut $458.5 million from the state’s current government spending plan.

“Now, more than any time probably in our history, it’s important to recruit high-tech, manufacturing jobs,” Kirby said.

By SHELIA BYRD – The Associated Press

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