The other budget proposalIn the midst of all the debate and hoopla over Governor Phil Bredesen's budget proposal, what hasn't gotten much attention is the Republican counter-proposal-a budget that gives real tax relief to Tennesseans with far fewer unnecessary expenditures. Among the features of the Republican plan:
No tax increase
And none is needed. With one of the largest surpluses in the nation, Tennessee has proven that we can be fiscally responsible without a State income tax. If anything, our people have been overtaxed-you can discuss sin-taxes as a deterrent all you like, but sin-taxes do not need to be raised as a source of revenue with a total surplus of 1.3 billion dollars. The Governor is willing to give business tax credits, but nothing for ordinary folks.
What is meant here by "pork?" Well, when it is being proposed that every Representative receive $100,000 and every Senator $300,000 to spend on "programs" in their district, it is clearly unnecessary spending and is a blatant ploy for votes. This kind of reckless spending will squander the surplus in a hurry, as the total expenditure (were every member of the General Assembly to accept this money) would be $19.8 million.a big bite out of the surplus-just like that...no wonder the Governor "needs" a tax increase. That, my friends, is whole hog sausage!
3% state employee raise
Without the pork mentioned above, a 3% pay increase for State employees could easily be funded without a tax hike, thus eliminating the ability of certain Democrats to whine about how State employees-who have better benefits in most cases than much of the general population, are treated.
Funds a crime package to increase penalties on sexual predators
We passed Jessica's Law. What a great day it was for Tennessee...yes we can fund Jessica's Law without a tax increase so long as we do not spend the money we do have on unneeded expenditures-oh, like 19.8 million dollars in handouts to legislators.
Includes a $21 million farm grant program
Normally, I simply wouldn't favor this since it, too, can be seen as a pork-laden vote buying scheme. Most of our farmers are quite capable of getting on without over-subsidization from the State. This year may prove to be a bit different, however. I can't really speak for the rest of the State, but East Tennessee is facing a massive drought if we don't get some steady rain in a hurry. My lawn is crisp and my garden is cooking in the ground as I write this. Douglas and Cherokee Dams are both reporting water levels at 12 feet below normal, which is a near-record low. If we don't see substantial rains by July, crops will be lost and entire farming communities could go under. Some modest assistance in the face of a weather disaster does not appear to be unreasonable in these unusual circumstances. Again, this would be feasible without a tax hike were it not for legislators and their pork.
Adds 136.6 million to the Rainy Day Fund Allows $100 million for K-12 capital outlay improvements from lottery reserves
Our K-12 schools so often get the shaft. Pre-K gets millions, and higher education supposedly has all this lottery money. It is time for kids who are in the normal K-12 education system to get the funding they need. Where's the beef on the Governor's end? He needs a tax increase to fund his proposals..while legislators hand out more of the hog. He ought to be furious at this, but I hear no cries of foul play coming from his office.
Restores $32.8 million in recurring road funding
The Democrats/Governor have taken away road funding and then proceeded to try and tell the legislature that more money is needed for roads. At the rate they are going, removal of money already available followed by demands for tax increases because of lack of funds seems to be the prevalent mentality here. I suppose this is how the Governor intends to pass an income tax.
I'm not saying the Republican plan is perfect-the truth is that no plan is going to be. The thing that makes this plan palatable is that it tends to use money where it is needed without spending the State into the ground or raising taxes. It is the most logical plan if the goal is to be fiscally responsible-a quality seeming to be lacking in the party opposite.
Labels: Tennessee politics