We received a lot of information today and I will post it as soon as I can turn the PDFs into JPGs – the press release is below.
You know that I would not vote to raise your taxes. In fact, I have never voted for a single tax increase, and I have voted to lower our taxes many times. One thing I really dislike is intellectual dishonesty – if that is what is going on let me try to put an end to it.
In Tennessee we have always followed two principles when it comes to funding our roads - we build Tennessee's roads with cash, and Tennessee's funding sources for the roads, the gas tax, diesel tax, rental car tax etc., operate strictly as user fees. In other words, those who use the roads pay for the roads - and what each pays is proportional to actual usage.
Tennessee has been experiencing very large budget surpluses partly because of growth and partly because of good management. The $1 billion you hear about comes from unspent funds in state departments and lawsuit victories that Tennessee has won - but unspent money and lawsuit proceeds is one time money not growth in revenue. The $300-400 million dollars we hear about comes from over collections of tax revenue from what was budgeted which means it is actual growth – however some of those collections are from recurring funds sources and some of is from non-recurring fund sources.
As anyone knows, we cannot spend non-recurring funds for recurring expenses. The various taxes that have been bringing in more tax revenue than we have budgeted to spend are not related to the road fund.
Our road construction needs are great in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon - indeed - in the entire state. The Governor had wanted to simply raise the gas tax however a group of us has been supporting a revenue neutral adjustment to the tax collections. That way the over-collections we are experiencing will be reassigned in a revenue neutral way to the road fund and in a way that supports our two main principles for our road construction – pay with cash and users pay for the roads - e.g. we do not want food taxes or the Hall Income tax building our roads. Road building should remain funded by those who use the roads.
The Governor's proposal today is a revenue neutral proposal. It proposes lowering taxes in areas where we have had large surpluses and proportionally adjusting the taxes that fund our roads.
Please write me back and tell me what you think. I have served you for a long time. I have never raised your taxes. I have stood for family values and told you the truth. Please let me know, do you support the idea of a revenue neutral approach because I can tell you that we really do have great infrastructure needs in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon - people have died, people have had accidents, people lose time in their day that they could spend with their families. I can also tell you that due to inflation, improved gas mileage and electric and natural gas vehicles the road fund is not meeting the needs of our fast growing state. It is just policy, there are many things we could do including doing nothing at all but that won’t help Providence or North Mt. Juliet. And I hope you don’t support a tax increase but rather that you support a revenue neutral way to direct tax dollars to the road fund.
I am very proud to serve on the House Finance Committee where we will be debating the Governor’s proposal, and I will work hard to make sure that any increase in revenue to the State Road Fund account is truly revenue neutral with comparable cuts to other taxes so that we can get the roads we need in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon completed.