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.
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.