As NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg tries to figure out how to spend his $5.4 billion in extra taxes, at least our leaders are trying to figure out a way to give our $1 billion back to us!

Quotes from State Republican Leadership:

“Our revenue growth is such that we must provide some tax relief. Now is the time.”
–Representative Harry Brooks (Knoxville) Assistant Republican Leader

“With the extra revenue our state is receiving, the money should be returned to the people, not spent to expand the size of government.”
–Representative Beth Harwell (Nashville) Republican Whip

“As Democrats debate how to spend your money, Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to return extra taxes back to the people. I’d hate to be a Democrat trying to explain why with $1 billion growth the Governor still needs more taxes.”
–Representative Brian Kelsey (Germantown) Republican Floor Leader

“When debating a $27 billion budget, we must be extra cautious to ensure we make decisions based on facts, not political spin. The fact is we have an extra $1 billion—plenty of money to provide tax relief.”
–Representative Jimmy Eldridge (Jackson) Caucus Vice-Chairman

“For years we were told that taxes had to be raised because times were tough. It seems to follow that we should lower taxes when times are good. Too bad government never recognizes the second.”
–Representative Mike Bell (Riceville) Assistant Floor Leader

“Tennesseans, my constituents, have overpaid taxes by almost $1 billion. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when I overpay a bill, I expect a refund.”
–Representative Chris Crider (Milan) Secretary

“I don’t care how much money special interests spend to try to influence the budget. Even the best spinsters can’t rebut the fact that we have $1 billion in growth and the people deserve some of that back.”
–Representative Joey Hensley (Hohenwald) Treasurer

A recent press release on the proposed food tax reduction:

Republican House leaders call for tax relief
Mumpower, Casada among those fighting for relief in food tax

NASHVILLE – House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) and House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Franklin) stood together today, advocating tax relief for the citizens of Tennessee. In a press conference this morning, the leaders called for a comprehensive look at the many proposals on the table that would give Tennesseans relief from the sales tax on food.

“In a year of such unprecedented growth, we should be talking about providing some type of relief to all Tennesseans by giving them a break on the sales tax on food,” stated Leader Mumpower. “Food is an absolute necessity. It’s time we stopped talking tax increases, and began running government efficiently and effectively plan for the future.”

“As someone who is in the grocery store once a week, I see how hard it is for hardworking Tennessee families to make ends meet,” he added.

Currently, the state of Tennessee has a rainy day fund of $497 million, with a proposed $38 million to be added. The state will have almost $1 billion in new overall available revenue plus an additional estimated $100 million after the Funding Board meets on May 7th. Leader Mumpower cited these over-collections and the unprecedented revenue growth that Tennessee is experiencing as reasons to return some of the money in the form of sales tax relief on food.

“It continues to amaze me how quickly the other party jumps at any chance to spend other people’s money,” said Chairman Casada. “What’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Here it is, plain and simple.”

Just to be fair, here are some quotes from State Democrat Leaders:

“Bredesen, a self-made millionaire, contends that reducing the tax on groceries is not the best way to help financially struggling Tennesseans. He argues a food tax cut would help the wealthy as much as the poor.”
The Knox-News Sentinel, April 7, 2007

“…the governor’s proposal says nothing about eliminating or reducing the tax on grocery food. In Knoxville last week to promote his budget, Bredesen called a Republican plan to reduce the sales tax on food voodoo. “It is the worst kind of Washington, D.C., budgeting I have seen in my time as governor,” he said.”
The Knox-News Sentinel, February 28, 2007

“A fundamental principal — and one I’m willing to lay down on the road over — is that you’ve got to fully recognize the costs of the things you do,” he said. “You can’t just play these games like Washington does.”
Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Bredesen labels slicing food tax irresponsible,” February 24, 2006

“…Gov. Bredesen said the GOP plan “is voodoo” that “would knock a hole in our budget.”
Chattanooga Times Free Press, February 21, 2008

“But Bredesen said poor people would “get no particular relief” from the exchange because about 900,000 Tennesseans buy their groceries through food stamps or similar programs, some of which are exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax on food.”
The City Paper, February 14, 2007

“Governor Phil Bredesen has said that while he may propose a hike in the state’s cigarette tax, he is reluctant to link such a measure to a decrease in the state’s sales tax on groceries.”
The Commercial Appeal, January 31, 2007

“Bredesen also told the newspaper he continues to oppose a state income tax and is against a proposal by some legislators to remove the state’s 6-cent sales tax on food.”
The Commercial Appeal, January 14, 2007

While Republicans in the national arena are grossly out of touch with the average conservative, at least – for the most part – Tennessee Republicans are being Republicans and attempting to give back to us the money we are owed. Good job!