Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann speaks at the Neshoba County Fair Wednesday, August 1, 2018. Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for America

In his Neshoba County Fair speech on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said that with state coffers at historically full levels, “This year, it’s time to give you your money back.”

“It’s not the government’s money,” Hosemann said. “It’s your money.”

Hosemann said that lawmakers could have provided a rebate last year, but were focused on passing the largest income tax cut in state history. In setting up his proposed rebate, he told fairgoers, “Inflation is scaring me. The possibility of a recession is scaring me.”

Mississippi, like most states, is collecting an unprecedented amount of revenue thanks to a number of factors, including federal COVID-19-relief money directed to the states, inflation and strong consumer spending. About 20 states already have opted to return some of those record revenue collections to taxpayers through direct payments. While Hosemann proposed a direct rebate during the 2022 session, the Legislature opted instead to provide the record tax cut that will not kick in until calendar year 2023. The income tax, when fully enacted in 2026, will be the largest in state history, taking about $525 million out of state coffers.

In addition to that tax cut, Hosemann renewed his call for a direct rebate during the 2023 session at the Nashoba County Fair speech, saying the state had the funds to do both.

The state ended the just completed fiscal year with $1.4 billion above the revenue projection and concluded the previous fiscal year about $1 billion about the official projection. The official revenue projection for the just-completed fiscal year was $5.9 billion. The state collected $7.4 billion in tax collections.

Hosemann said Wednesday that he’s “proud Mississippi led the way with the Dobbs case” to end the national constitutional right to abortion. But he said now Mississippi faces a challenge to provide health services to mothers and children and to be “pro child.” He lamented that the House shot down proposals to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for working mothers, which “the Senate voted for three times to have.”

“How can we celebrate the rights of the unborn and then when they get here tell them, good luck?” Hosemann said. “We are better than that.”

The first-term Republican lieutenant governor made clear that the Senate where he presides will again make it a priority to extend postpartum coverage. Under current state law, pregnant women who fall below a certain income level are eligible for health care coverage through Medicaid. But the Medicaid coverage extends only 60 days after the pregnancy.

He cited Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana among the states that have extended postpartum coverage and said Mississippi should do the same.

Hosemann recapped an “historical” legislative session early this year, including spending about $1 billion in federal funds for water, sewer and other infrastructure and reducing state debt.

“And one other thing — we passed the largest teacher pay raise in Mississippi history, $246 million,” Hosemann said. “… The greatest asset that Mississippi has is a child’s brain.”

Hosemann also made clear he is running for a second term as lieutenant governor, and not seeking any other office.

“If you’ll rehire me for another four years, I promise to come back to work for you,” Hosemann said.

Hosemann and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney spoke Wednesday on the opening day of the fair’s political speakings. The six other statewide elected officials and House Speaker Philip Gunn are scheduled to speak Thursday.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.

Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.