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Ailing furniture industry seeks lawmakers’ help

A lawmaker has proposed using the anticipated cigarette tax increase to provide incentives for Mississippi’s ailing furniture industry.

Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, says part of increase could be used to provide a $2,000 tax credit to furniture companies for each of their cut-and-sew employees. Those jobs are being lost to foreign countries that pay much lower wages, he said.

The Senate Finance Committee met Thursday in Jackson with the Mississippi Furniture Association.

The Legislature, with the blessing of Gov. Haley Barbour, is expected to increase the tax on cigarettes. The debate now is centered on what to do with the revenue.

Ken Pruett, president of the Mississippi Furniture Association, said the state has lost 1,100 jobs in the furniture industry this year.