Thursday, May 17, 2007

Finally fighting

I am throughly happy that Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower is now prepared to fight to keep unnecessary tax increases from being passed in this session. What tax increases can be deemed as unnecessary? Mumpower and Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada were absolutely right when they said in a press release yesterday that with the nature of the surplus we have, no tax increase is needed at all.

The numbers tell a story of revenue savings and surplus unseen in almost any other State in the Union. At present, the state of Tennessee has a rainy day fund of $497 million, with a proposed $36.6 million to be added to the savings account (which I think we can presume is interest-bearing). The state will have over $680 million recurring, and $833 million in funds that are supposedly non-recurring. The long and short of all of that is that we have money coming out of our ears here.

Should we be responsible with the money that we do have? Certainly, nobody wants to burn such a huge surplus in a single year. It is terribly obvious, however, that to ask the people for a tax increase under such circumstances is the height of government carelessness and greed.

“There is absolutely no justification for a tax increase right now—all their arguments are losing steam,” said Mumpower. “We have plenty of money to fund education, take care of state employees, and give the people a rollback on the food tax. What we don’t have room is pork-barrel spending.”

Rep. Glen Casada put it even more bluntly:

“We have a unique opportunity here to help everyone in this state, across the board,” he said. “What you are seeing is the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. They want to take your money and spend it for you. Republicans advocate letting the people in this state make their own decisions with regards to their money. We need to return some money to the taxpayers.”

I have said for months now that the GOP needs to begin to draw the line in the sand to differentiate themselves from the party opposite in preparation for the next election. People need to see that a change in control will mean a change in the way things are done. Finally, the line gets drawn yesterday. The only problem is that this was done so late in the legislative session that it will be nearly impossible to get the Governor or the Democrats to cave on the tax question. I look for some kind of deal that will involve a tax hike in some fashion on an item that might be deemed as "non-essential"-the Republicans would be smart to continue to try and tie any tax increase on other items to a tax increase on food.



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