Reeves Concerned Over State Debt

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While state treasurer Tate Reeves and Gov. Haley Barbour are elected independently, it became obvious as Reeves spoke Tuesday that the two think alike.

"In my opinion, we should not raise taxes on the people across Mississippi, and the reason for that is we have a choice, and that choice is we can either ask state government to tighten its belt or we can go to working families across Mississippi and ask them to tighten theirs, and it's my opinion that when given that choice, state government should side with working families each and every time," Reeves said.

The treasurer pointed out that when the sales tax was raised to seven percent in 1992, it was said that would solve all the state's fiscal problem but it didn't. Today the state is still borrowing money.

"When we look at our total debt service in the state of Mississippi, it has grown from $90 million to $360 million just in the last eight years," said Reeves. "Now that $360 million, everyone must understand that the money we spend on debt service, that's one dollar that doesn't go to education, one dollar that doesn't go to public safety, one dollar that doesn't go to vital services that state government provides."

Reeves said that is why the state must cut operating costs rather than raise taxes.

"I don't know whether that will occur or not, but clearly we've got to get back in structural balance where recurring revenue equals recurring expenditures," Reeves said.

Reeves said the present system is flawed to the point where it makes good people make bad choices and it has to change.