Reaction to Governor's Tax Change Veto

The Legislature's proposal to increase cigarette taxes and start phasing out taxes on groceries was vetoed Wednesday by Gov. Haley Barbour.

The leaders of some small towns have been concerned that the change would have a negative impact on their revenues.

If you're going to get something to eat in Marion, your options are limited only to the few convenience stores that are open there, and the town is reliant on these convenience stores.

Marion estimates about 30 percent of its budget comes from sales tax revenue. A significant portion of that comes from the groceries sold at these stores.

"We can't afford to lose that," said Mayor Elvis Hudson. "Being a small town like we are, we have no other way of generating revenue."

Hudson says the only thing the town could do would be raise taxes somewhere else to make up for the lost revenue.

"You get it raised back up on your car tag or your property tax. You've got to fill the gap. Something else is going to have to take a hit," Hudson said.

"If the grocery tax goes down, something else has to go up," said Gary Smith, a customer of Chevron Xpress Lane in Marion. "That's just the nature of society."

And that is one of the main reasons Gov. Barbour gave for vetoing the bill.

But Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck says the governor's claim of hurting small towns is fictitious and the tax change wouldn't have nearly the effect on small towns that he says.

Lawmakers who support the changes are currently working on solidifying an override of the veto. The measure originally passed with enough votes to kill a veto, if lawmakers don't have a change of heart.

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