Mississippi's State Tax Commission recently reported that revenue collections for the month of January fell by 12.2% (the worst showing of the current fiscal year). That made January the 17th consecutive month of lower-than-expected revenues. In response to these figures, Governor Haley Barbour said, "I will soon be forced to look at whether additional cuts will be necessary in the current fiscal year beyond the $437 million in cuts already made."
Instead of looking to rely solely on cuts to vital services, Mississippi lawmakers should strike a balance between budget cuts and new revenue. In a recent Clarion Ledger column citing ITEP estimates, Ed Sivak of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center makes the point that there are many ways that Mississippi could ease its fiscal shortfall by increasing taxes, such as a sales tax base expansion or modernizing the income tax.
At some point, Mississippi lawmakers must acknowledge that it's simply impossible to slash their way out of the state's fiscal crisis. They need to seriously consider the options Sivak discusses.