MOUNT JULIET, Tennessee — Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Mae Beavers at an Americans For Prosperity Town Hall meeting Monday evening honoring her and Rep. Mark Pody for voting against the gas tax, said “I think the joke is on the people who put the plan together.” Sen. Beavers was referring to the IMPROVE Act, 4 cent gas and 6 cent diesel tax increases set to go into effect July 1 and then an additional 1 cent and 2 cents, respectively, on July 1, 2018, just before the state primaries are held on August 2, 2018.
Given the results of the recent Tennessee Star poll where 48.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters responded that they were more likely to support a gubernatorial candidate who promises to repeal, Sen. Beavers may be right about the impact to State House and Senate incumbents who voted for the gas tax.
Sen. Beavers is the only one of three declared gubernatorial candidates who is making the repeal of the gas tax a major topic of her campaign platform.
“Most of you know, I was around for the state income tax fight, and this was completely different,” said Beavers of the IMPROVE Act. “It seems like there was no fight in the Senate at all.” She continued, “The biggest fight was me objecting to it in Senate Transportation and me being the only no vote against the whole thing in the Senate.
Giving her experienced and inside perspective on the bill, Beavers advised, “There are a lot of things you probably don’t know about this yet.” She continued, giving some of the other lesser known provisions in the bill:
- After July 1, when you receive your notice for renewal on your car registration, you’ll have $5 tacked on.
- Another thing the Governor talked about when he first started talking about the gas tax, it’s all about transit. The bill provides for 11 counties, of which we (Wilson County) are one, a surcharge up to 20 percent tax on a lot of different taxes that your local government can decide to go up on to fund transit.
- About the 20 percent reduction in food tax, that’s an interesting way to put it. It’s one cent.
The food tax reduction is the only one of three included in the IMPROVE Act that will benefit all Tennesseans, as was further demonstrated with Sen. Beavers’ informal survey asking the thirty-plus attendees to raise their hand if they paid either the franchise and excise tax or Hall Income Tax. Only one attendee raised their hand as payers of each of those two taxes.
That a tax increase was not needed at all was reinforced when Sen. Beavers reported that just under half, at $148 million, of the $300 million annual need for transportation funding was over collected for just the month of April 2017.
Further misrepresentation of the IMPROVE Act continues after its passage, as Sen. Beavers stated without naming names, “People are already out trying to fool you that the only reason we’re getting (Highway) 109 done is because of the gas tax. The gas tax doesn’t start until July 1, and 109 was funded in last year’s budget.”
Sen. Beavers, a strong advocate and sponsor of resolutions for state sovereignty, spoke of the need for an elected attorney general citing two examples when the current appointed attorney general did not protect against federal overreach for citizens fined under Obamacare for not purchasing health insurance and when the legislature chose to get out of the costly refugee resettlement program.
Further to the sovereignty and transportation issues, Sen. Beavers sponsored a resolution this year, SJR0059, that urged President Trump and Congress to distribute federal transportation funding to the states by block grants, taking the “restrictions off of our the road funds when they come back to us” that dictate use on “all kinds of things” like “walking trails, historic structures, welcome centers.”