By Lynn Evans

This was certainly not the way Gov. Haley Barbour wanted to end his term in state office. Tax revenues are down $371 million and counting. State budget alternatives are grim, with cuts of at least 12 percent for most agencies, including education.

Seeking opportunity amid crisis, Barbour is recommending major government realignment and simplification, as well as consolidation in K-12 and at the university level. By including such incendiary proposals as combining Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley with Jackson State University, Barbour took the chance that his proposals will be dead on arrival at the Capitol in January. His challenge to support his proposals or “come up with a better way” ought to be taken seriously.

Cuts and consolidation should not be the only options on the table. The kind of cuts the governor is proposing will be a severe shock to the economy, just when Mississippi and the nation are trying to climb out of the Great Recession. This decade’s declining growth in Mississippi’s major revenue sources – personal and corporate income and sales taxes – should have lawmakers looking at the state’s tax structure.

Click here to view full op-ed