Damn you Tennessee General Assembly. I am a hippie liberal chick from the North. I never met a problem or even a “problem” that I didn’t want the government to throw money at.
And yet, today, I am writing this post to point folks to this post by Ben Cunningham, who’s motto seems to be (and I am in fact making this up) “If the State can’t raise enough money to cover its needs by holding a series of bake sales across Tennessee, the government is too big.”
Do you know why?
A. Because we have an enormous surplus and it does seem unseemly to collect more money from us when you have so much of our money already, just sitting around waiting for you to dream up shit to put it towards.
B. Not one of these bills seems to be about pouring money into our current infrastructure and getting basic things like, oh, say, reliable internet access for our state police or helping make all public buildings in the state accessible to all Tennessee citizens, which would be things I might support.
And C., I’m going to tell you, the Republicans have me convinced that we should lower or eliminate the sales tax on food. If we have such an enormous surplus, do some good for all Tennesseans, rich and poor, and lower or eliminate the sales tax on food.
Now, I’ll admit, there are going to be lean years again and the sales tax on food is a good way to generate revenue, because, of course, everyone has to eat. But it seems to me that one of y’all could figure out how to tie the sales tax on food inversely to the budget surplus, so that the more money the state brings in over what they thought they were going to bring in, the lower the sales tax on food, and, in lean years, the sales tax would go up, but not to exceed what we’re paying now.
Because, I have to tell you, the legislation you’re putting forth right now makes y’all look like a bunch of jackasses.
Shall we peruse the bills Cunningham is bringing to our attention?
SB784 creates a boat titling system that would collect fees in order to fund the boat titling system. Kudos on the system paying for itself, but, if there were no system, there’d be no need to collect fees in the first place.
HB139 would charge prison inmates $6 upon release in exchange for an “identification card.” First, where is an honest inmate going to get $6 from? Second, what if they don’t have the $6? It costs money to keep folks in prison. Are you going to use moreof my tax dollars to detain a guy who can’t come up with $6? Why do felons need an identification card? Have you run that by your attorneys yet? Seems to me you’re going to run into some Constitutional problems, there. And seriously, even if this were Constitutional, is $6 per inmate going to cover the costs of implementing the system?
HB1383–Five dollars more per copy on top of what the health department charges? Are Tennessee birth certificates made of gold? You know how much I can get a lovely color copy made at Kinko’s for?
Seriously, folks, is there no one in the State who sits down and asks, “What’s this going to cost us, both monetarily and in terms of not being the laughing stock of our State?”
You have a surplus–fully fund underfunded programs, make sure that we’re in compliance with Federal statutes and can easily work with the Feds when we need to, and then cut us a break on the food tax.
Voila! Everbody’s happy. Or everybody’s equally unhappy, which is about the same thing.