Belly-up to the trough boys! We've got a windfall of cash and only a little time to spend it!
This may be the feeling of many legislators who specialize in bringing home the pork, but a few of us remember that the pig belongs to the people in the first place. I believe we should give it back!
Several ideas are floating around--some of them originating at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. One idea is an extended sales tax holiday (we already passed one for next year, but another would be nice.)
Another idea is lowering or taking the sales tax off of food for the rest of the year. Another idea is to put the money in the rainy day fund to improve our bond rating and lower interest rates of loans obtained by the state.
Whatever the idea or the merit---don't count on it materializing or getting much money. Most legislators hate to give money back to the people who worked for it in the first place. Giving it back might lead people to expect efficient government, and many a legislator doesn't want that to happen.
The most wasteful idea to materialize has got to be giving the legislature new voting boards. I have never witnessed them broken, nor has anyone said there is a problem with them. Wait--retraction: I guess no problems unless you count the time Speaker Naifeh left the boards open to try to pass an the income tax vote. I hate to tell them, but new boards won't change any votes on the that issue.
Even if they are needed, are new boards the best use of our money?
What about the cries from 2 years ago how we need to take the tax off of food and how we are losing sales to lower taxed stores across our state border? What about the money from the cities and counties? They are going to need it with the shift in expenses due to the broken promise of TennCare.
If the money is not designated immediately then it will go Governor Bredesen's slush fund to be doled out(out of session) as he sees fit with no questions asked. Republicans had a bill to stop this practice, but guess what? It was killed in committee.
TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) is a great idea and I've supported the idea for 3 or 4 years now. Now that I'm in the legislature serving Tennesseans, the idea only looks more attractive. This surplus which rightly belongs to Tennesseans, is a great example why TABOR is needed. The current majority will NEVER have enough money-they will always want more.