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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No new tax / no pork budget alternative should not be ignored

Someone asked me if I was at all concerned that the groups in my district not chosen to receive a community enhancement grant would be unhappy with me.

My answer, “Not at all.” In the first place, each has no possible way of knowing if I would have picked them or not.

Second, even in districts where legislators gave grants, the vast majority of groups were left out. Unlike most government grants, there was no fair notice, or process, by which any group was provided an opportunity to apply and compete for the money.

An alternative “no new taxes, no pork” budget that uses the revenue surplus responsibly is not only possible; it’s done. The budget fully funds the priorities outlined in the Administration’s budget while addressing legislators’ concerns.

Right now, I’m afraid the administration is winning the battle of convincing our local school officials that in order to fund education, we must have a $219 million tax increase. I think this alternative budget gives evidence that is simply not true.

The revised budget has several prongs: providing tax relief, funding the Basic Education Plan 2.0 at 50 percent (the same level the Administration is now proposing), and allowing state government to live within its means. Other highlights include:

No tax increase
No pork
3% state employee raise
Funds the last 1/3 of compression pay for state employees
Funds a crime package to increase penalties on sexual predators
Includes a $21 million farm grant program
Adds 136.6 million to the Rainy Day Fund
Allows $100 million for K-12 capital outlay improvements from lottery reserves
Restores $32.8 million in recurring road funding
$115 million dollar reduction in sales tax on food
$210 million dollars to higher education capital projects and operations

The money is here, it’s a matter of prioritizing needs just as families must do with their own budgets. And I know for sure that a budget with no new taxes, relief from the sales tax on food, and no pork is important to my constituents.

Currently, the state of Tennessee has a rainy day fund of $497 million, with a proposed $36.6 million to be added in the Governor’s plan. The state will have over $680 million recurring, and $833 million in one-time money. These over-collections and the unprecedented revenue growth that Tennessee is experiencing is certainly a reason to return some of the money in the form of sales tax relief on food. In fact, this is a unique opportunity to help everyone in this state, across the board.

Even after all these initiatives are funded, including reducing the sales tax, the budget has a remaining balance of $26 million in non-recurring and $5.4 million in recurring funds left over.

On Friday, I visited a dialysis clinic in Gallatin. Seeing the totally debilitating effects of renal failure is shocking. I havn't heard any word about funding the spend down program to aid patients disabled by this or other completely debilitating illnesses but it seems to me this is a community enhancement that is hard to beat.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so it seems they are wanting to raise the tax on cigarettes. No smoking in resturants and enclosed areas, regardless of WHO owns them. I guess next year the Governor will want to raise taxes again to fund smoking police.

countryboy said...

Actually it looks like along with the tobacco tax in a year with a $1.3 BILLION surplus the governor is wanting to also add a tax to your propane grill use this summer.

Anonymous said...

Seems like they are taxing everything, taking away our rights. I for one will be glad when the Governor is OUT!