Bewildered and cranky, the 132 members of our state Legislature are a sight to behold. About this time of year, it’s always bad enough: The lobbyists begin breaking arms, the bills start rushing through at warp speed, and everyone’s so dog tired that they start forgetting the devil is in the details. Things fall apart; the vodka cannot hold.
But this year is one for the record books. Talk of an income tax is rattling the constitutions of even the best of them. Three lawmakers were taken to hospital emergency rooms early this week, their blood pressures shooting through their skulls. Skittish and scared, they rush from secret meeting to secret meeting, doing their best to contain the political damage they know will come in November if they raise taxes.
The deal is this: The state faces a $300 million shortfall. Only the nutcases feel the state’s budget can be balanced without a tax increase, even though we at the Scene feel that cutting the state Department of Transportation would make an excellent budget-reduction experiment.
Whatever, beginning last week, lawmakers began floating various tax balloons, as a means of balancing the books and gauging public reaction. All of them burst.
Somehow, in the midst of all this, with members lurching from one tax to another, with apparently no sense of ideology guiding them in the regressive vs. progressive scheme of things, our representatives fell in with an income tax. Lord knows what heavy objects struck their heads in the middle of the night.
To make the medicine go down easy, they made the tax a genuine, wealth-redistributing, sock-the-rich kind of tax. Only those single taxpayers making over $100,000, or couples making over $200,000, were to be taxed. The tax would only cover about 42,000 households in Tennessee, of whom most are probably wealthy and Republican.
Of course, this provoked widespread panic.
As if to prove that the middle class will always do the work of the rich, a flotsam of humanity descended on Capitol Hill to protest the tax idea. They didn’t come by Jaguar; they came by pickup truck. They honked horns, wore UT orange, waved signs, and saw in the income tax argument a sophisticated talk-radio-generated-plotline that went like this: Government Sucks. So Do Taxes.
Anyway, as the hue and cry increased outside, members quaked as they waited in the marble hallways. Absolutely fearing for their lives, they appeared poised to go for the income tax idea, although, unfortunately, they began placing so many restrictions on it that their work was unlikely to generate the beginnings of real tax reform in the state. Then, as the day wore on, the whole idea imploded upon itself, and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh was forced to throw in the towel from the lower chamber. It was a case of too little spine, and too many honking horns.
We like the idea of tax reform. We like responsible, economic government too. This small income tax would have been a start at reforming how this state collects revenue. But since it didn’t make it out of the General Assembly this time around, our guess is that this tax is probably a goner.
We would speculate on what might happen next, but doing so would be an insult to the Legislature, chaos theory, and the minds in control there.
We haven’t a clue what happens next.
What's good for the Metro power elite is poisonous for the citizens? I'm shocked, shocked,…
The birds were flying low. Too low for Mr. Xray, the man whose name we…
I suspect you mean that as an insult, but your odd syntax makes it unclear.
Do YOU know what a hedonist is? The word you may be looking for is…
Here are some more Muslims worshipping. Perhaps the Tennessean will also run an article on…