Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Davette Blalock explains her vote on the budget. Her record is being distorted!

Davette Blalock
Below is a copy of the email Davette Blaclock sent to her mailing list. I have not seen the original piece from her opponent to which she is responding but you can figure it out. I have lost her original formatting in this re posting, so the highlighting and formatting are mine.

From Davette Blalock

To Rod
Good morning neighbors, 

 It has come to my attention that my opponent is playing politics-as-usual, verbally and in campaign literature, by distorting my voting record in the Metro Council. Such tactics are a disappointment, and I had hoped that his campaign would operate at a more civil level.

These types of political tactics are somewhat of a commonplace when an opponent is challenging an incumbent. I respect District 27’s constituents enough to clarify the incorrect assertions on my opponent’s part. The following is the correct action I took on the specific bills:
  • The way the Metro budget works is The Mayor brings a budget to the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.
  • The Chair person (appointed by the Vice Mayor) gets to make changes if desired and the rest of the council votes on the Chair’s revision.
  • If we vote NO on the Chair’s revision then we are actually voting YES to the Mayor’s budget because the Mayor’s budget becomes law automatically if a Substitute Budget brought by the Chair is not passed.
  • If a Council member (other than the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee) wants to make a change to the budget they have to do so by bringing amendments to the budget.
So, if you really want to see who has worked and voted to keep taxes down, look to the Council Members who voted for the amendments......and Yes, you will see my name on them.
My opponent has also misunderstood a bill from 2012. This bill related to health insurance for Council members. Then and now, Council Members who serve 8 years are permitted to retain their coverage. This bill would have changed rules for continuing such coverage beginning in 2019.
This benefit was established when there were no term limits on Council. Now that there are term limits, I have seen this cost to the city increase. That is why I voted in favor that, if it had passed, would have STOPPED the continuation of health insurance for Council Members after 2019.
Bills are sometimes hard to understand with all their legal jargon, but please feel free to contact Jon Cooper, the Council attorney or myself if you have any further questions. I am proud that ALL my votes are aligned with the desires and needs of the residents in our District, without exception. That will be my unwavering commitment for the next four years.
Davette Blalock is exactly right in explaining the budget process. If one votes "no" on a council substitute budget which may have less of a tax increase than the mayor's budget, the effect of that "no" vote is a vote for the mayor's budget instead of the substitute. I have seen incumbents distort the effect of their vote by saying, "I voted against that tax increase," when in actuality they voted for a greater tax increase than what passed. I have also seen challengers wrongly accuse someone of voting for a tax increase when the incumbent actually voted for the lesser of two tax increases.

Most people do not understand the budget process.  But if anyone gets elected promising they will never vote for a tax increase, they are lying. The only way they can vote against a tax increase is if the mayor does not propose one or if the Council substitute does not call for one. Even abstaining or skipping the meeting has the effect of voting for the Mayor's budget. Unfortunately, that is just the way the charter is written.  If does not have to be that way.  In Chattanooga, if the council can not pass a budget they can pass a one-month continuing resolution until they do pass a budget.  The effect of this is that 1/12 of last year's budget appropriation is continued for one month and the tax rate stays the same for another month.

I think the charter should be changed to allow a council member to actually vote "no" on a budget, but until it is, it is not possible to vote against a tax increase if one is proposed by the mayor and if the Council substitute also provides for a tax increase.

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