Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Josh Stites explains his vote on the Budget.

I received the following email from Josh Sites this morning in which he explains his vote on the budget last night and he says it may be time to amend the charter as to how a budget is adopted. Josh is correct, I think, in concluding the McGuire budget was the better of the choices between that budget or the Mayor's budget. He is accurate in saying that, by the time that bill was up for adoption, that was the only choice. A "no" vote or an abstention would have, in effect, been a vote for the Mayor's budget. And, yes, it is time to change the charter.

Josh Stites
I want to explain my vote last night as I have gotten an email this morning. It's being reported this morning in the Tennessean and some other outlets that the deciding tax vote was the final vote on the tax bill. Unfortunately, that is an inaccurate reporting of the vote. The final vote was for the substitute (McGuire's) budget. McGuire's budget was essentially just as bad as the mayor's proposed budget but since it saved $8 M for next year's debt service, in my estimation it was barely better than the mayor's. So, given the two options between the mayor's budget and the substitute budget, I was more supportive of the substitute. However, unlike the song the Lt. Gov. recently quoted, last night at closing time, they all still looked ugly.

I voted for every amendment possible to lower the tax increase, including Duvall's to zero out the tax increase. Lowering taxes is what I preferred and still prefer to do, unfortunately, all of the amendments that I and the other conservative members voted for were defeated, the closest one only garnering 11 votes. By the time we got to the final vote, all tax reduction options were off the table and we were left to vote up or down on the substitute (McGuire's) budget. Had everyone voted against it and defeated it, if effect, the mayor's budget would have taken effect on July 1. So, as a result of Nashville's charter, voting against the substitute amendment would have essentially been a vote for the mayor's budget. That's no way to run a railroad, but unfortunately that is the rules we had to play by.

It may benefit us to strike while the iron is hot and seek to get a charter amendment in regards to how the budget is passed. Carl Burch and I were discussing this this past week. Currently the mayor has the ability to raise taxes by way of introducing his budget and the Council is in a race against the clock to come up with an alternative or the mayor wins come July 1. I don't know if it happens this way every year, but this year we had already passed the mayor's budget on the first two readings before we had even finished the budget hearings.

 I talked to Cass after the vote last night and explained the final vote that he is reporting as the vote that raised taxes. While I generally respect his efforts to be an accurate reporter, I think his reporting is misleading and inaccurate. I hope this clears up any questions that some of you may have had, I know I heard from one of you about the vote and just wanted to clarify. Don't worry, I'm not getting weak kneed on you, I'm down for the fight as much now as I have ever been. I appreciate the leadership and experience that CM Duvall has offered through the fight. I look forward to having him in the House and also as an at-large CM in 2015. Thank you to everyone who led the fight either on the ground or over the airwaves. Every one's contributions were not in vain. I think the people are starting to pay attention and know who is working to represent their wishes and those who continue to fight for the growth of government.


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