State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver remains resolute in her opposition to raising the state’s gas tax.
In an interview last week, Weaver told The Vidette she was “not supportive of the mechanics of the governor’s bill.”
RELATED LINK: Haslam promotes gas tax at Carthage stop
Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed IMPROVE Act would raise the gas tax by 7 cents (12 on diesel, 15 on propane), along with an average of $5 increase in vehicle registration. The extra revenue would be directed toward the state’s transportation fund and would be offset by a half-cent reduction in the sales tax on groceries.
Last week, the House Transportation Subcommittee voted 5-4 to move the IMPROVE Act forward to the full committee, which was to meet Tuesday. A tiebreaking vote was cast was Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville).
The subcommittee also voted 5-3 to kill an alternative plan by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, which would take a portion of the sales tax and direct it toward transportation.
Weaver, who chairs the Transportation Subcommittee, was on the losing end of both votes.
“The plan was to have out of subcommittee two clean transportation bills: the IMPROVE plan and the Hawk plan,” Weaver said. “It’s like a chess game.”
Instead, the format of the Hawk plan was added as an amendment to the IMPROVE Act. Weaver said she believed the full committee would remove that language and put back the governor’s original plan, or something close to it.
“It’s going to be a fight all the way to the floor,” she said. “There’s no way to tell what it’s going to look like.”
Weaver noted that transportation funding in Tennessee is “very vulnerable” but said she felt utilizing sales tax revenues was the proper course, rather than raising taxes, especially with a near $1 billion surplus last year.
“Why is (Gov. Haslam) in a hurry to put a permanent tax on the people of Tennessee? We’re going to fight it,” she said.
In a previous stop in Carthage last month, Gov. Haslam told The Vidette that using the general fund to support transportation could force cuts elsewhere in the state budget, especially in future years when no surplus might be there.
Weaver did say she was not in favor of adding a cut in the state’s franchise business tax to the transportation bill, as was discussed during hearings. She said such a measure should instead stand alone.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or email@example.com.