Fifty Leading Tennessee Conservatives Send Open Letter to State Legislature Opposing Gas Tax Increase

Fifty leading Tennessee conservatives have sent an open letter to the Tennessee General Assembly opposing Gov. Haslam’s proposed IMPROVE Act, which includes a 7 cents per gallon gas tax increase and a 12 cents per gallon diesel tax increase.

The letter was released Tuesday morning, on the same day the House Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on the IMPROVE Act.

Conservative political strategist Steve Gill noted: “The names on this letter should raise concerns among Republican legislators. These are the exact types of conservative political activists who run in Republican primaries, recruit others to run in Republican primaries, and help those who run in Republican primaries.”

Gill said that a gas tax increase, if passed, will likely be THE issue in 2018 Republican primary races. “Voters will essentially have a referendum to repeal the tax by replacing those who voted for it with those who will vote to repeal the tax increase,” Gill noted. “The mail pieces and radio adds against the tax increasers almost write themselves.”

Another Republican political consultant pointed out the ideological impact of the current internal policy battles in the Republican Party at the state and national level. “The Ryan Obamacare-lite plan may expand the conservative Freedom Caucus from 40 to 90 while the Haslam gas tax increase may increase the number of solid conservatives in the Tennessee House from 30 to 50 by 2018.”

The full text of the letter, and the fifty signators can be seen below:

March 14 , 2017
RE: Opposition to Raising Tennessee Fuel Taxes

Dear Members of the Tennessee Legislature:

As conservative leaders across Tennessee, we are proud to stand with Americans for Prosperity, the Nashville Tea Party, the Tennessee Republican Assembly, America First Tennessee, Red Nation Rising TN, and the vast majority of Tennesseans who oppose raising Tennessee gasoline and diesel taxes. We do not believe that ANY tax increase or new taxes are needed while Tennessee has been the beneficiary of BILLIONS of dollars in new recurring revenue and surpluses in recent years, including an anticipated nearly TWO BILLION DOLLARS in surplus and recurring revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

We believe that additional road construction funding can be allocated from the in-creased recurring funding and from the budget surpluses that we have seen in the past two years and another billion dollars anticipated in the upcoming fiscal year. As the Trump Administration plans on providing billions of dollars in infrastructure funding, we should wait to see what funds may be forthcoming from our Federal tax dollars before allowing the State to dig its hands deeper into the pockets of Tennessee taxpayers.

Additionally, we deem a thorough and transparent examination of potential waste, fraud and abuse in the Tennessee Department of Transportation to be necessary to insure responsible management of existing road funds while also generating new ideas that could promote cost savings and assist in the distribution of allocated funds that ensure economy, efficiency and effectiveness of future department programs and operations.

At a time when Tennessee taxpayers have been OVERCHARGED by BILLIONS of dollars, it is irresponsible to even consider asking hardworking Tennesseans to pay higher taxes. We respectfully request: (1) that you reject any and all efforts to raise the gasoline and diesel taxes; (2) that you allocate any additional spending on road and bridge construction and maintenance from the current surplus and/or recurring funds; (3) that you initiate an immediate and complete review of current funding, processes and procedures at the Tennessee Department of Transportation to ensure that Tennessee tax-payers are getting the maximum benefit from our tax dollars.

Andrew Ogles
TN Director, Americans for Prosperity

Ben Cunningham
Founder, Nashville Tea Party

Sharon Ford
President, Tennessee Republican Assembly

John Harris
Executive Director,
Tennessee Firearms Association

Richard Archie
Chair, 8th District Independent Voters Coalition

Mark Skoda
Chair, America First Tennessee

Grace King
TN State Manager, Red Nation Rising

Rick Womick
Former State Representative

Judson Phillips
Founder, Tea Party Nation

Moe Taylor
Sumner County Commissioner

Julie Hannah
Former Chair, Williamson County GOP

Kay White
Chair, Tri-Cities Tea Party

Doug White
Co-Chair, Tri-Cities Tea Party

Richard Swink
Former Chair, Robertson County GOP

Jerry Lowery
White County Conservative Republicans
Sparta City Alderman

Menda Holmes
Former Chair, Wilson County Tea Party

Sherrie McCulley
Treasurer, White County Republican Party

Karen Lees
Former Vice Chair White County Republican Party

Lou Ann Zelenik
Former Chair, Rutherford County Republican Party

James Amundsen
AFP Deputy State Director – Tennessee

Joan Follman
Vice Chair, Fayette County GOP

Ginny Miles
Executive Committee, Cross County Patriots

Rebecca Ann Burke
TN-GOP State Executive Committee, Dist. 23

Katherine G. Hudgins
Sentinel Builder – TN, Heritage Action

Theresa West
Chair, Knoxville Tea Party

Albert “A.J.” McCall, II
TN-GOP State Executive Committee, Dist. 17

Chris Hughes
TN-GOP State Executive Committee, Dist. 18

Julie Commander Mauck
Founder, Greater Nolensville Conservatives

Jeff Hartline
Editor, Tennessee Spotlight

Angie McClanahan
TN-GOP State Executive Committee, Dist. 28

Former Representative Jim Cobb
TN-GOP State Executive Committee, Dist. 12

Chris Orndorf
Chair, Robertson County GOP

Ben Graham
Chair, Wilson County Tea Party

Joe Carr
Former State Representative
Chair, JoePAC

Robert Dunham
Former Chair, White County GOP

Rachel Welch
Former Chair, Putnam County
Republican Party

Raymond Baker
Retired President, Associated Consultants

Billy Spivey
Former State Representative

Angela Courtney
Chair, Fayette County GOP

James Curran
Secretary, Fayette County GOP

Michelle Garcia
Grassroots Activist

Lee Douglas
President, 9-12 Project Tennessee

Jackie Archer
Co-Founder, TN Textbook Advocates

Pastor Dale Walker
President, TN Pastors Network

Kathryn Bryson
TN-GOP State Exec. Comm. Dist 26

Tricia Stickel
Chair, Maury County Tea Party

Mary Ann Parks
TN-GOP State Exec. Comm. Dist 25

Ed Butler
Overton County Grassroots Activist

Ron McDow
TN-GOP State Exec. Comm. Dist 20

Robert Duvall
TN-GOP State Exec. Comm. Dist 21

Mark West
Chair, Chattanooga Tea Party

An updated letter with an expanded list of signators will be available next week.

You can download a PDF of the letter here:

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3 Thoughts to “Fifty Leading Tennessee Conservatives Send Open Letter to State Legislature Opposing Gas Tax Increase”

  1. […] Gill helped organize a letter sent to members of the Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday from fifty conservative leaders in the state who oppose increasing the gas tax. […]

  2. […] the Tennessee General Assembly opposing the gas tax increase back in March, as The Tennessee Star reported at the […]

  3. Victor

    Excellent reporting & thanks to those that signed this petition!