Posts Tagged ‘nashville’

Keep Tennessee Income Tax-Free by Congressman Marsha Blackburn

Keep Tennessee Income Tax-Free by Congressman Marsha Blackburn

It was one of those hot July days where we fought the heat and humidity outside the Tennessee State Capitol. The General Assembly was still in session and a fight was brewing inside the Senate Chamber. A Republican-led, Democrat-supported effort to raise taxes and put into place a disastrous state income tax was growing. Little did we know this was going to be the final showdown.

We were told the state was in such an economic crisis that an income tax was the only way out. We were told we’d have to raise taxes, again, to keep the pace with other states. We were told Tennessee would forever lag behind the rest of the nation if we didn’t start collecting another tax on her citizens. After all, with a state income tax, people could deduct if from their federal income tax filing. What a deal!

I’d had enough. The tax was first proposed on February 9, 1999 and I had been fighting it every day since then. The pro-tax crowd knew that only had to push to win one time. We had to win every battle in order to win the war.  I wasn’t going to shrink into my corner and take my orders from the highest elected Republican in the state. I had been elected to serve the 23rd District of the State of Tennessee and I took my orders from them, the people. They didn’t want a state income tax and they recognized how disastrous it would truly be. My constituents wanted a fiscally sound government that answered to them and their dollar. They didn’t want to keep sending money to Nashville to a state government that was growing too large and too quickly. They did not want to prop up a failed healthcare delivery program called TennCare. They wanted accountability and transparency.

Joined by talk radio from around the state, rallying the troops, and calling on a few good friends, I asked for volunteers to come let their voice be known. Days grew to weeks, weeks to months, and over the years they rallied, honked, and took a stand with me and other conservative legislators against a state income tax. On that final showdown day, July 4,2002, we won the day and the Tennessee General Assembly went home with a balanced budget – passed, once again, without a state income tax.

Today Tennessee is ranked as one of the top states in the nation to start and grow a business. Along with an exceptional credit rating, Tennessee has one of the lowest per-person debt burdens nationwide. Today’s General Assembly and our governor are cutting even more taxes for our citizens and leading the way in offering accountable service for the taxpayer dollar.

All of this is possible because a few bold elected officials decided enough was enough. We knew we couldn’t tax our way to prosperity. We knew we would have to make tough choices with the budget and there would be more tough choices to come, but budgets are about priorities and making tough fiscal decisions.

As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they will make a decision on Amendment 3.  This amendment would make it crystal clear that the state’s constitution does not allow for the imposition of a state income tax.  This will allow our legislature to move forward on a firm and definitive footing, creating an even more certain environment for jobs growth and retention. Our citizens and businesses will never have to worry about being burdened by another bucket of taxes.

-Congressman Marsha Blackburn

October 31st, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Is “Nashville” TV Show Worth the Cost?

Is “Nashville” TV Show Worth the Cost?

This week, the city of Nashville approved a grant of $1 million in taxpayer money, doubling its previous grant, to keep production of ABC’s hit TV series “Nashville” in Music City. Claims by ABC that production of the third season of the popular series may relocate to Georgia or Texas has sparked action by Tennessee officials.

This $1 million incentive grant by the Metro Council, coupled with a $5.5 million incentive grant  from the state of Tennessee according to the Nashville Scene, should cause us to question why our government is funding a TV series that makes millions of dollars each season and does little in return to help the average Tennessee taxpayer. Is it the responsibility of Tennessee state and local governments to incentivize private industries? And if we allow taxpayer dollars to be frivolously spent on “Nashville,” where do we draw the line in the future?

Proponents of the incentives claim that Nashville and Tennessee benefit tremendously from keeping production local—through increased job opportunities, major spending in the area, and “immeasurable” marketing benefits, as viewers around the country are exposed to the exciting music scene of Nashville on their TV screens each Wednesday night. However, these proponents fail to realize that economic development incentives, particularly in the film industry, are often irresponsible investments from which taxpayers rarely see the benefits. Critics have noted that in many states, film industry incentives have at most a 30 cent return on the dollar, an “investment” that no person would make with their own money. It is unjust and unreasonable to expect Tennessee taxpayers to fund the production of a highly profitable show, especially when many do not even tune in on Wednesday nights.

-Kate Cavenaugh

September 20th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

Non-Government Gig Hits Nashville

Non-Government Gig Hits Nashville

Today, news broke that AT&T will bring Gigabit Internet service to Nashville. This is a significant investment and a clear sign that when the government stays out of the market, private investment follows and businesses thrive.

Unfortunately, we have also seen the other side of this coin. Last week, Chattanooga petitioned the FCC to allow an expansion of its government-owned Gigabit network—financed on public dollars, carrying a price tag of more than $550 million for taxpayers and ratepayers.

These subsidies have created an unfair advantage for the Electric Power Board (EPB), the public operator of the network, making it difficult and unappealing for independent networks to compete. Yet, despite these unfair advantages, EPB has struggled to capture a considerable share of the local market. Just some 4,000 of Chattanooga’s 173,000 residents are surfing the Internet at high speeds through EPB.

To make matters worse, EPB President Harold DePriest remarked that his employees had the pleasure of spending like drunken sailors. Of course, that’s easier to do when it’s taxpayer money and not your own bottom-line.

Fortunately, the largely conservative and more fiscally responsible Tennessee General Assembly has refused to allow Chattanooga to expand its public network. Yet, Chattanooga government officials believe they’re entitled to their subsidized growth and have now turned to the federal government and the FCC. And while I would love to see the same fiscal restraint from the federal government that has been displayed by our General Assembly, I am not holding my breath. 

I will, however, be closely watching a bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Marsha Blackburn that would prohibit the FCC from trampling on states’ authority to limit the growth of government-owned networks. After all, most of us wouldn’t expect the government to mow our lawns, run our restaurants, repair our homes, or offer many of the services provided by the private sector, so why should we ask them to provide us with Internet?

- Justin Owen

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July 28th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News