Diane Black and Art Laffer Op-Ed: ‘Transit Plan Will Mire Nashville in Debt and Taxes’

Gubernatorial candidate Diane Black, along with Reagan-era economic policy advisor and author Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, wrote an op-ed  appearing in The Tennessean Friday critical of the $9 billion Transit plan set for a vote by public referendum on May 1.

“New jobs in manufacturing are soaring and businesses are moving to Tennessee on a daily basis,” the quick-reading, six hundred word piece begins.

It continues:

This stands in stark contrast to states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio and West Virginia.

Those states have suffered from job losses in steel, coal and automobiles, resulting in politicians pointing their fingers at the “predatory” trade practices of China, Vietnam and Japan.

But the reason we’re doing so well and those other states are languishing is not because of foreigners dumping products in the U.S. Our incredible success is, in part, due to the fact that Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax or a death tax. Our property taxes are low and our overall tax burden is third lowest in the nation.

We have excellent public services, such as highways, and improvements in our school system are close to the highest in the United States. Tennessee also has budget surpluses, the best credit rating in the nation and well-funded employee pension funds. What’s not to love about Tennessee?

But there is a specter on the horizon here in Tennessee that we need to pay attention to before it’s too late called “Let’s Move Nashville.” If approved by the voters in May, Let’s Move Nashville would short circuit Tennessee’s economy.

Laffer and Black then point out the enormous price tag of nearly $14,000 the proposal will cost each resident in Davidson County, using the “optimistic forecasts” of $9 billion for the light rail component alone.

Turning to California’s example, the duo note that Golden State voters approved a high-speed rail system to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. To date, the projected costs have swelled to $77 billion, with the possibility that the spending could go to as high as $98 billion. And in any event, the rail system won’t be completed until 2033.

Black and Laffer acknowledge the pain and suffering of Nashville traffic, but posit the problems should be addressed incrementally,  “on a block-by-block, street-by-street and project-by-project basis.”

To do otherwise, they warn, will lead to the inevitable cost overruns, higher overall taxes – including a return of an income tax – with less money going to basic services like schools, stopping crime, and social programs – all while sitting in even worse traffic while the massive infrastructure project is built over the course of a half-a-generation.

“We’re doing well because we trust the people of Tennessee more than we trust the government. Big government is synonymous with decline, and Tennessee is proof positive,” they write; adding that Americans are attracted to opportunity, which is why they are coming to Nashville.

In conclusion, they argue:

Let’s Move Nashville will kill our prosperity and make Nashville one of the highest taxed cities in the country. We need to share our prosperity with the whole state of Tennessee and remain a low-tax state.

Please vote “no” on May 1.

Read the whole editorial at The Tennessean.


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8 Thoughts to “Diane Black and Art Laffer Op-Ed: ‘Transit Plan Will Mire Nashville in Debt and Taxes’”

  1. […] economist was a critic of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s $9 billion mass transit plan as well as former Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax, The Star […]

  2. […] economist was a critic of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s $9 billion mass transit plan as well as former Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax, The Star […]

  3. […] economist was a critic of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s $9 billion mass transit plan as well as former Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax, The Star […]

  4. Bart Moran

    No one wants to ride the bus. If they did, they already would be doing it. And if operating said bus was profitable, someone would be doing it, too.

  5. Kevin

    Although I absolutely agree that the proposed transit plan is a HUGE mistake, I find Mr. Laffer’s new found perspective to be very hypocritical! I vividly remember his testimony in the House Transportation Committee meeting, where his comments in support of the transit enabling IMPROVE Act, helped get us to where we are today! Why now the change? Could it be that the “Haslam-train”, and the associated “trickle down economics”, has left the station, and Mr. Laffer had to transfer to the Black Line? What was the fare, 30 pieces of silver?

  6. Papa

    We are seeing the exodus from Nashville already In anticipation of what is the future of Metro. We moved to rural Wilson County 17 years ago. Most of the area then was woodland and farms. We now have four residential communities being built, one with $1M+ homes. Three houses have been built on my street alone – on property not much larger than my yard. Metro school attendance fell 2000 from projected numbers. Overcrowding, over priced housing, taxes and crime seem to be driving people to reside in surrounding counties even if they work in Nashville. If Nashville stays on track as other ultra liberal cities, population will continue to decline and taxes will increase. The $9B bill for a transit system will be like throwing gasoline on the fire.

    1. 83ragtop50

      My experience in Houston was similar. We kept moving further from the center of the city but “progress” soon came to swallow us up. The 10 minute drive to get out of my subdivision was at a location over 20 miles from the center of Houston. It will happen here as well unless saner minds prevail.

      You in Wilson County need to elect Mae Beavers if you desire to keep any semblance of sanity. The Sumner County Commission was taken over by liberals in the last major election cycle. It has been tax and spend ever since. Hang on to what you have.

  7. 83ragtop50

    After having lived in Houston for many, many years before moving to Sumner County in 2006, I can only laugh at the cries of agony with those commuting within the Nashville region. It took me 10 minutes just to get out of my subdivision to start my daily commute to work. You have not seen anything yet if the area “leadership” continues to push for unfettered population growth at the expense of quality of life for existing residents. These so-called leaders are punch drunk with the current success in attracting more taxpayers – if one wants to call it that – but are clueless or worse yet uncaring about what the long term has in store. The proposed mess transit plan will only cost a ton of money while not doing one iota to relieve traffic congestion. What a sham and what a shame. Just check out the failure of the Houston transit plan which included light rail if you have any doubts.