Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Gas Tax Passes; Local Reps Vote No - Senators Yes

Gas Tax Passes; Local Reps Vote No - Senators Yes

The Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus is urging state lawmakers to approve Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's transportation funding proposal that would include the state's first gas tax hike since 1989.

Haslam's proposal, dubbed the Improve Act, would also make cuts to the state's sales tax on groceries, corporate taxes paid by manufacturers and the tax on earnings from stocks and bonds.

Supporters argue that a package of tax cuts made in the bill outweigh the amount raised from the fuel tax increases.

Under the change proposed by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, the state would have instead paid for new transportation projects by dedicating tax revenue from the sale of new and used vehicles.

Proponents said it would be a net tax decrease. They single out a provision of the bill that would provide for a local option to have voters decide on whether to raise city or county taxes to pay for transit projects.

Nashville Democrat Bo Mitchell says he doesn't believe those cuts will save most families money. The House could concur either Thursday or Monday and send the entire bill to the governor for his signature.

"At the end of the day, infrastructure is a limited role of government, and we need to perform it well", Harwell said. It calls for a 6-cent increase to the tax on gasoline and a 10-cent increase to the diesel tax. "My folks in my district don't mind paying a little bit more on their gas tax if you'll fix their roads". Hawk's alternative plan was defeated on a 58-38 vote. "While there is still work to be done to reconcile the legislation, I am confident that Governor Haslam will have the opportunity to sign this bill into law". "But ultimately we wanted to kill the Hawk amendment, which would gut our entire budget", Stewart said.

He pointed out Polaris was set to invest $100 million and create 2,500 jobs in Clarksville but opted to go to Alabama because its business taxes are lower. But an hour or so later, Doss told The Tennessean he would move for the House to adopt and concur with the Senate's bill, no conference needed. Hardaway said he would work with the Haslam Administration in 2018 to ensure transportation spending goes toward ethnic groups and woman and to come up with a plan to phase out the food tax.

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