State Taxpayers Fund Legislators’ Party
Tennesseans fund legislators’ fun. State Taxpayers Fund Legislators’ Party Up to $1.4 million in state tax dollars will be used to finance tours, meals and other goodies for legislators and lobbyists from across the country when Tennessee hosts the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this week. NCSL—the professional organization of state legislators—will bring 6,000 expected attendees to the Opryland Resort, including more than 1,000 legislators and over 2,000 lobbyists. During the past two years, in preparation for the conference, Governor Phil Bredesen and members of the Tennessee General Assembly allocated $1.4 million to lavish these attendees with entertainment, transportation and children’s activities. Among the goodies paid for by state taxpayers are: • Backstage tours of the Grand Ole Opry • A Franklin Battlefield tour • Lunch at the Wildhorse Saloon • Sightseeing on Music Row • A visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame • Carnival attractions • 2,000 Tennessee-themed T-shirts • A tour of Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage • Ice skating • Transportation between Opryland and downtown Nashville • A video game contest All of this will occur at no cost to the legislators, lobbyists and others attending NCSL. Instead, it will be fully financed by the taxpayers of Tennessee. The bulk of this money, like most money consumed by the state government, comes from the state sales tax applied to goods and services sold in Tennessee. Most Tennesseans would agree that it is wholly inappropriate to tax baby food, work boots and aspirin to pay for visiting politicians and lobbyists to tour the Opry House and eat at the Wildhorse. Unfortunately, it appears that our governor and General Assembly believe otherwise. The “Monthly Misuse” is a monthly feature produced by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research to highlight an example of wasteful or questionable spending of tax dollars by the Tennessee state government.