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The House unanimously approved a measure Wednesday that backers say could help stem brain drain — the phenomenon of young professionals leaving the state, taking their talents and skills with them.
The legislation, HB 1550, would allow recent college graduates to receive a deduction on their state income taxes within a year of graduating from a four-year school. Those people would be able to receive the credit for up to three years if they continue living and working in the state. If they remained in state and purchased property, they could receive the tax break for and additional two years under the bill.
“We’re hoping this entices some of our best and brightest to stay here. Or, if they go to college out of state, to come back and raise their families right here,” said Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, who sponsored the legislation.
The House voted 118-0 to pass the legislation without serious debate.
A group of millennial lawmakers known as the Future Caucus applauded the move in a news release.
“It is incredibly encouraging to see the Mississippi House of Representatives taking steps to reverse the evacuation of our best and brightest,” said Rep. Jeramey Anderson, D-Moss Point, co-chairman of the millennial caucus.
Between 2010 and 2016, Mississippi’s Millennial population fell by 801,799, a 3.9 percent decrease in that span. According to a governing.com analysis of the recently reported state-by-state Census data, no other state in the country lost more Millennials. (Overall, Mississippi’s population increased by nearly 20,000 during the same amount of time to total 2,974,294 in 2016.)
Nearby states also lost Millennials, but proportionally not as many: Alabama, 1.8 percent, and Arkansas, 0.2 percent. Other than Mississippi, the only other states experiencing a decline of more than two percentage points between 2010 and 2016 were Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico.
State officials, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant, have said that these data are overstated, so it’s unclear what the future holds for the legislation.
Clay Chandler, a spokesman for Bryant, told Mississippi Today that the legislation is likely to be amended but that the governor is “supportive of the bill’s concept.”
Reeves’ office did not immediately respond to questions about how the House bill would be handled in the Senate.