Haslam Reduced Highway Fund Budget By 13 Percent, Grew State Budget By 20 Percent Before Proposing Gas Tax Increases

Tennessee Star

Governor Haslam reduced the Highway Fund budget by 13 percent, while he grew the State budget by 20 percent during his first six years in office. Only after he made these reductions in the Highway Fund budget did he propose the gas tax and diesel tax increases included in the…

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Haslam’s IMPROVE Act Includes Same ‘Economic Development’ That Lost Millions in TNInvestco

Tennessee Star

  “A performance audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has revealed the State of Tennessee has only recovered $5.3 million of its initial $200 million investment in the TNInvestco program,”  according to a statement dated November 10, 2016, under the name of Justin P. Wilson, Comptroller, referring to a performance…

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TDOT Reduces Backlog From $6 Billion to $4.7 Billion, But Total ‘Project Needs’ Grow to $10.5 Billion

Tennessee Star

  The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) list of projects issued at the end of 2015 totaled $6.1 billion.  The updated project list included with the 2017 IMPROVE Act, on its surface, has a bottom line figure of $10.5 billion with the backlog potion being $4.7 billion. A spreadsheet document…

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Boss Doss Claim That Tennessee is Lowest Taxed State in Nation Contradicted by Kiplinger Report

Tennessee Star

State Rep. Barry “Boss” Doss (R-Leoma), chairman of the House Transportation and champion of the IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” claimed in the Finance, Ways and Means Committee last Tuesday that Tennessee is the lowest taxed state in the nation. The Kiplinger Report, a “leader in personal finance…

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Gas Tax Increase Lobbyists Begin Advertising Campaign on Ralph Bristol’s WWTN Show

Regular listeners to Nashville’s Morning News With Ralph Bristol on 99.7 FM WWTN may have noticed a new advertiser on Thursday–the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee. The Coalition is a group of 39 lobbying groups that support Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017,” the majority of which will directly…

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Transportation Coalition of Tennessee Set to Air ‘It’s Smart’ Ads to Promote Gas Tax Hike

Tennessee Star

  The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee (TCofTN), will launch a series of radio ads touting Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017”, the Times Free Press reports. With the legislation heading to the state House and Senate floor as early as next week, the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee plans…

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The 962 Road Construction Projects Costing $10.5 Billion in The Gas Tax Increase Bill Can Be ‘Modified’ by TDOT

Tennessee Star

  Governor Haslam and other administration officials have stated since announcing the IMPROVE Act , now the “Tax Cut Act of 2017,” on January 18 that the purpose of the gas and diesel tax increases included in the bill is to fund 962 needed road construction projects in all 95 counties for a…

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Letter to the Editor: Haslam’s ‘Tax Cut Act of 2017’ Straight Out of Orwell’s 1984

Tennessee Star

  Dear Tennessee Star, In George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, the unfortunate character Winston is battling desperately to grasp objective truth. Meanwhile the power mongers ruling the Ministry of Truth tell him, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Orwell thought he was writing satire; too bad he…

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BREAKING: Majority of House Republicans Oppose Gas Tax Increase in ‘Secret’ Whip Vote, 37 to 30

Tennessee Star

  Earlier this week the House Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) conducted a secret poll of the House GOP Caucus members to gauge support for the Haslam IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017.” Williams distributed popsicle sticks to members of the Caucus for them to cast their…

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Gas Tax Increase Passes House Finance Committee on a Voice Vote

Tennessee Star

  Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin), chairman of the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, presided over a voice vote on Tuesday that advanced the controversial IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” to the Calendar and Rules Committee, where it awaits scheduling for a vote on the floor of the full…

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Steve Gill Commentary: Crony Capitalism Drives the Haslam Gas Tax Plan

Tennessee Star

  The Haslam Administration is doling out over $113 million in tax CUTS to some of Tennessee’s largest corporations to justify over $350 million in tax INCREASES on working Tennesseans. According to the Times Free Press, just 24 large manufacturing companies will each receive tax breaks of over a million…

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Despite Ethics Cloud, ‘Proud’ Barry Doss Presented ‘New and IMPROVED’ Gas Tax Bill for ‘Rebranding’ as ‘Tax Cut Act of 2017’

Tennessee Star

  Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) told the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday he was “proud to bring the bill before you,” as he presented Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, the gas tax increase proposal he co-sponsors, for consideration.   Rep. Doss continues to sponsor and present the bill, despite the call…

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State Senator Mark Norris Accuses House Speaker Beth Harwell Of Working Covertly On Gas Tax Alternative

Tennessee Star

  State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has accused House Speaker Beth Harwell of working behind the scenes on a plan to avoid a gas tax increase, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. “There’s a fine line between indecision and deception,” Norris (R-Collierville) said Thursday, who did not elaborate on his…

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Speaker Harwell Says She Will Have a Road Funding Plan That Does Not Raise The Gas Tax

Tennessee Star

  Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) says that she and many other members of the Tennessee House of Representatives will introduce an alternative plan that will not increase gas taxes when the IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” comes before the House Finance Ways and Means Committee on Monday for consideration.…

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Speaker Harwell Says She ‘Cannot Recall a Bill from the Finance Subcommittee’

Tennessee Star

  Tennessee State House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office contacted The Tennessee Star Tuesday morning in response to our story Monday about State Representative Jerry Sexton’s press conference. In that press conference, Rep. Sexton (R-Bean Station) called on Speaker Harwell to send back the Gax Tax bill to the House Transportation Subcommittee. “I…

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State Rep. Jerry Sexton Calls Out Hypocrisy of Gas Tax Supporters Who Oppose Use of Sales Taxes for Road Construction

Fireworks erupted on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representativesewhen the typically rapid-fire tick-tock of the day’s agenda was interrupted as Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) questioned Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) on the “special privilege” of professional sports teams re-directing sale tax revenues back to a Nashville municipal organization whose…

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Concerned Veterans of America: ‘Veterans Being Used in Tennessee Tax Hike Ploy’

Tennessee Star

Concerned Veterans of America (CVA)  blasted Tennessee’s Republican political establishment on Monday for using veterans in a “Tennessee [gas] tax hike ploy.” “The politicians pushing for this gas tax increase know that it’s unpopular, so they’ve resorted to using veterans as pawns to push their big government agenda. Pretending that…

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Boss Doss Breaks Rules to Ram Amended Gas Tax Increase Through House Transportation Committee

Tennessee Star

In a stunning abuse of power, State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) broke a long-standing rule of the Tennessee House of Representatives to ram an amended version of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase through the House Transportation Committee he chairs on Tuesday. A bill containing the new and improved IMPROVE Act…

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Under Governor Haslam, Tennessee Department of Transportation ‘Overhead’ Costs Have Grown 63 Percent, While ‘Highway Infrastructure’ Spending Has Shrunk By 33 Percent

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) total costs for “Administration” plus “Headquarters Operation,” what would be considered “overhead” in the business world, have grown by 63 percent, from $78.9 to $117 million, in the seven years between Gov. Haslam’s first budget in FY 2011-12 and his  proposed budget for FY…

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Grover Norquist’s Endorsement of Gov. Haslam Gas Tax Increase Backfires

Tennessee Star

Gas tax increase supporters initially believed they had scored a great political coup on Monday when Washington insider Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), declared his support for the amended version of Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act that passed the Senate Transportation Committee last week. That amended version…

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Thirty Tennessee General Assembly Members Signed The ‘Taxpayer Protection Pledge,’ But Some Are Breaking It With The IMPROVE Act

“Politicians often run for office saying they won’t raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough:  Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing,” says Americans for Tax Reform. The “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” commits an elected official or candidate…

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House Transportation Committee Delays Vote on The IMPROVE Act Another Week

  State Rep. Courtney Rogers (R-Goodlettsville), Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee, acted as Chair when the committee convened on Tuesday in the absence of Chairman Barry Doss (R-Leoma), who was not present at the hearing. Acting Chair Rogers reported to the committee members present that Chairman Doss had asked…

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State Senate Transportation Committee Passes Amended Gas Tax Hike

The State Senate Transportation Committee passed an amended version of Gov. Haslam’s Gas Tax hike (SB 1221) on Monday. Among the changes were a removal of the inflation indexing provision, a cut in the governor’s proposed gas tax increase from 7 cents per gallon to 6 cents per gallon, and a…

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Gas Tax Apologists Unable to Explain Why the 15 Percent of User Fees Diverted From Highway Fund is Not Spent on Road Construction

Tennessee Star

At least 15 percent of the $1.2 billion in highway user fees collected by the state of Tennessee in FY 2015-2016–$189 million– was diverted away from road construction (see page A-65 of The Budget: State of Tennessee, Distribution of Actual Revenue by Fund, FY 2015-2016). Under Gov. Haslam’s proposed FY…

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House Transportation Committee Fails To Advance IMPROVE Act, Despite Multiple Tactics By Chairman Doss

  The House Transportation Committee failed to advance Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act (HB 0534) on Tuesday, despite multiple tactics employed by Chairman State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), a vigorous proponent of the governor’s gas tax increase proposal, to accomplish that outcome. The committee voted instead to roll the vote over…

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Senate Transportation Committee Approves 15 Percent Increase in TDOT Budget That Includes $278 Million From IMPROVE Act Funding

Tennessee Star

The State Senate Transportation Committee voted on Monday to approve the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) 2017-18 budget of $2.2 billion, an increase of 15 percent over the 2016-17 budget of $1.9 billion. Five members of the committee voted in favor of the increased funding, while three passed on the…

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State Rep Andy Holt Skewers pro-Gax Tax Hike Republicans in Blistering Facebook Rant

Tennessee Star - Rep. Andy Holt

Wednesday afternoon, State Representative Andy Holt let loose with a blistering rant against the House Transportation Committee’s arcane maneuvers to pass Gov Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, going so far as to include a photo of a bag of thirty pieces of silver. Via Facebook: Well everyone, The Governor’s gas tax…

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Letter to the Editor: Today’s Shenanigans at House Transportation Subcommittee Deflate Tennessee Taxpayers

Tennessee Star

  Dear Tennessee Star, Conference room 16 was packed with an overflow standing room only crowd of “Ax the Tax” folks, and they listened respectfully to every word. The Gas Can Man was there bigger than life and getting all kinds of photo ops. Yet, in the end, the Tennessee…

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Haslam’s IMPROVE Act Forced Through House Subcommittee in Rare Political Power Play as Speaker Pro Tem Brought in To Break Tie

Tennessee Star

Through a series of political maneuvers, Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act has advanced from the House Transportation Subcommittee to the full House Transportation Committee, thanks to the rare tie-breaking vote cast by Speaker Pro Tem State Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville).  Johnson was brought in at the last minute to the House…

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25 Percent of Highway Fund ‘User Fees’ Are Allocated to General Fund, Education, and Debt

One of the principles asserted by Governor Haslam in support of his IMPROVE Act and its proposed increase of 7 cents per gallon in the gas tax is that “users” of roads should pay for road construction. The gas tax is proper, he argues, because people who purchase gas to fuel…

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