By Cari Wade Gervin via Nashville Post
Gov. Bill Haslam pitched his gas tax and IMPROVE Act to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce over lunch — although the organization has already stated its support for the plan.
Haslam has been giving a version of the same speech to multiple, mostly sympathetic groups over the past two weeks. Afterwards, he was asked if he had plans to start taking a more forceful approach to getting his plan through, as a few members of the House Transportation Subcommittee have already stated their opposition to any tax increase.
Not yet, it seems.
“We’re still early in the process,” Haslam said. “I think it’s awfully early to say here’s what’s going to happen until people literally have the chance to evaluate it.”
Haslam also stated his opposition to Rep. David Hawk’s transportation plan, which would not raise any taxes and would transfer money out of the general fund to cover transportation projects.
“I don’t think it’s responsible,” Haslam said.
He also commented that he’s open to adopting at least one aspect of Rep. John Ray Clemmons’ transportation plan — the addition of other taxes besides sales taxes that cities and counties can raise to fund transit projects. Clemmons says giving cities the option to levy other increases is important, as high sales taxes hit poor people the hardest.
“We’re having those conversations. Our idea for how to do that came when we met with a group of Middle Tennessee mayors,” Haslam said. “If they would like to propose something different, they can. The issue, in Tennessee, is that almost anything you have is going to meet that definition [of being a regressive tax], because we’re not going to have an income-based tax.”
No committee votes on any of the plans have yet been scheduled.