House Republican leaders joined Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey Wednesday in denouncing Gov. Phil Bredesen's latest proposed tax increase as legislative leaders held private meetings to find ways to balance the state budget.
The House Republican Caucus leadership called on Bredesen to stop proposing new tax increases as a way to balance the budget. Last week, Bredesen outlined a plan to raise $85 million by lifting the sales tax cap on purchases of more than $3,200. That would raise the tax on those items from 7 percent to 9.75 percent.
"The governor is showing a blatant disregard for the challenges small business owners and average Tennesseans face," said House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower. "As the economy is struggling mightily, this would do nothing but provide a setback for recession-weary Tennesseans."
"Tennesseans are tired of hearing the Bredesen administration telling them this simply 'closes a loophole' or 'streamlines' the tax structure. The bottom line is that this proposal is an $85 million tax increase on hardworking Tennesseans," said House Republican caucus chairman Glen Casada. "Small businesses can and will be the driving force behind economic recovery, so we cannot put them in the cross hairs of this massive tax increase."
Ramsey vowed last week to reject the tax increase. Senate Republicans are discussing an alternative plan that uses spending cuts to balance the budget. Bredesen challenged Republicans Tuesday to offer their proposal.
"My question is for anybody, ‘OK, what’s your solution?’ It may well be one that I’d be perfectly comfortable with," Bredesen said. "But this is the point where the legislature has got to stop saying, ‘I don’t like this and I don’t like this and I don’t like this’ and come forward with what it is they want to do to solve the problem if it’s something different than what I’ve proposed."