In an exclusive interview with The Tennessee Star on Capitol Hill Tuesday, House Majority Leader State Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) explained why he supports State Rep. David Hawk‘s (R-Greeneville) plan to fund road construction by reallocating one quarter of one percent (0.25) out of the 7 percent currently paid in sales tax on retail purchases that goes to the state’s general fund. (Tennessee residents pay an additional 2.25 per cent to 2.75 percent in sales tax on retail purchases to fund local governments.)
Gov. Haslam has proposed a plan to pay for additional road construction by increasing the gas tax by 7 cents, from 21 cents per gallon to 28 cents per gallon, and the diesel tax by 12 cents, from 18 cents to 30 cents per gallon.
The Star’s Laura Baigert interviewed State. Rep. Casada in his Capitol Hill offices.
“First let me say, that the governor, I applaud him because he has identified there’s a need in the state, and that need is to build more roads,” Casada told Baigert.
“The reason that has arisen, the reason the gas tax by itself is not sufficient is because of inflation, because of increased automobile gas mileage. We’re not collecting the amount that we need to build more roads,” Casada said, adding:
With that said, in a year when you have 957 million recurring dollars, these are dollars that will recur every year.
That is where you get your funding source to build more roads.
Our roads are a priority, so if they are a priority, you take your excess, your collections, and you designate it to roads, that’s what the David Hawk Plan does.
So he will take a quarter of a point from the sales tax and it will be dedicated to TDOT [the Tennessee Department of Transportation] every year.
So it will be in code, it’s recurring, it’s predictable and we will know how much we will get every year, thus you can take on long term projects.
So I applaud the Hawk Plan because it is a common sense, no nonsense way to fund what’s a priority, which is roads.
“Anything else you want to add?” Baigert asked.
“It’s not that the governor’s plan is wrong,” Casada said.
“If, at the end of the day . . . the will of the committee system will bring a bill forward. I am commited to bringing more money to roads. I hope it’s the Hawk Plan,” Casada concluded.
Casada was elected House Majority Leader by his fellow Republican legislators in November on a 42 to 29 vote.