HB0534/SB1221 Raises tax on gas for DOT in spite of big surplus Casada/Norris
Ostensibly for DOT infrastructure projects, this bill raises the tax on gas by 20% in 2017 and more into the future, along with permission for local governments to enact or raise certain fees and surcharges. This was done in spite of an almost $2,000,000,000. surplus. When urged by conservatives to use some of that surplus instead of raising the gas tax, the argument was that "users" have traditionally, and must, pay for roads and bridges.
TLRC was against this bill because the taxpayers had already over-paid taxes for the past several years. We held that the surplus sales tax collection be used in some reasonable manner (car, tire, or auto-part sales tax) rather than spending the surplus on unnecessary indulgences and raising the cost of living for Tennesseans.
TLRC Observed Process
The Governor wanted this tax to be applied so he set his minions to work pressuring legislators to get on board. There were many efforts by good legislators to negotiate a better way to fund the DOT shortfall, but the leadership would have none of it. In the end, the Governor won, the people lost, but the division was clear. It told us who would stand firm and strong for principle and who would go along to get along.
TLRC weighted this bill much heavier than the others.