The Mississippi House decided Friday that a tax increase on cigarettes and liquor should be considered in negotiations to solve the Medicaid shortfall.
“You negotiate with all the cards on the table,” said Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg. “If Medicaid is so important, why don’t we place all the cards on the table face up?”
By a vote of 81-38, the House made its statement to place the so-called “sin taxes” on the table. The vote came during debate of a Senate rules suspension resolution that would allow a bill to be drafted to place a tax of about $100 per day tax on non-Medicare occupied hospital beds to generate money for Medicaid.
The rules suspension resolution, which requires a two-thirds vote, is needed to take up the issue this late in the session. Deciding how to resolve a $100 million deficit in Medicaid for the current year and a shortfall of about $250 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, is key to reaching an agreement on an overall state budget in the coming days.
The deadline for House and Senate leaders to reach a budget compromise for the two chambers to vote on is Wednesday night. House and Senate budget leaders will meet during the weekend, but the full membership of the two chambers will not return until Monday afternoon.