McCoy: We need upturn in national, state economy

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Dec. 14, 2003
State Rep. Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, a state representative since 1980, is expected to take over as speaker of the House one of the most powerful elected positions in state government when the Legislature opens Jan. 6.
McCoy will replace current Speaker Tim Ford, who did not seek re-election
McCoy currently heads the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. As speaker, he will preside as top officer over the 122-member Mississippi House of Representatives.
The speaker, who is chosen from among House members in a roll call vote at the start of each four-year term, appoints House members to chair and serve on more than 30 committees that draft legislation.
McCoy was in Meridian this week to speak at a Business Before Hours meeting hosted by the East Mississippi Development Corp. He met with The Meridian Star's editorial board about his new role in the Legislature.
The Meridian Star: You said earlier this week that lawmakers are not likely to increase taxes during the 2004 Legislature. Can you elaborate on that and why you feel that way?
Billy McCoy: It is not to be casual at all, or act like it's not a serious matter, because it is. I do not see any kind of general tax increase. There are opportunities within our revenue laws; we must always make sure that everybody is being treated equal and that everybody is paying their fair share.
A couple of years ago, we had a situation where there were corporations maybe finding some loops in our corporate tax laws. We tried to make sure that did not take place. We need to be very diligent in seeing that our revenue laws are dealt with fairly to everybody.
Having said that, we expect our revenue streams to be the same. We do expect, because of what we see in the national and state economy, to have a general upturn to return to the more normal growth patterns that we've expected over the past several years.
Based on the things that we already have in place in dealing with the current budget situation, we've already done many things to make sure that we set strong priorities and to live within those priorities.
We expect to do those things necessary within the available dollars to meet our essential services and to stress the very strong priorities that we must have.
Frankly, we do need the general upturn in the economy.
The Star: There are reports that there is another looming shortfall in the Medicaid program. Where does the revenue come to balance that?
McCoy: I'm not sure about how much of a shortfall that we'll have. That's yet to be determined. We will need to maintain a very strong Medicaid program. We're doing many, many things, and I'm not the expert on this.