by Jeff Woods
on Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 7:36 PM
House Speaker Kent Williams is correct that it's crazy to talk about raising taxes in a recession. But that doesn't mean Rep. Jimmy Naifeh didn't make a good point during today's legislative budget hearing. Lawmakers should have reformed our antiquated tax system long ago. They shirked their responsibility by failing to do anything when they could while the economy was good. Now, the state's financial condition is worse than it would have been, and it's impossible to fund the basic services of state government.
Naifeh castigates legislators: "No one has even got the backbone or the guts to talk about revenue enhancement." But the blame for the inaction of the past seven years rests largely with Gov. Phil Bredesen, who has refused to try to do what every sensible economist in the state has been recommending for decades: Cut the sales tax and enact a state income tax. Unlike his more responsible predecessors, he hasn't even tried to raise the sales tax.