News release from the House Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) issued the following statement on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus regarding the June revenue collections, which showed an over-collection of $116,563,000 for the month and $554,650,100 for the first eleven months of the fiscal year:
“Back in April, House Democrats predicted that Tennessee would have excess revenue well north of $200,000,000 based on trends in over-collections. On multiple occasions, we requested that the State Funding Board call a meeting to revise their revenue projections, so the state’s budget for FY ’12-’13 would reflect more accurate revenue figures.
“When the majority party ignored our calls, House Democrats put forward an alternative budget we felt was more in line with revenue trends. Our alternative budget was balanced, it cut the food tax by an additional .25 percent, it restored the 2 percent cut to higher education– which would have helped avoid the 6-9 percent tuition hikes we are seeing across the state.
“Our alternative budget put $20,000,000 into our community colleges and technology centers, avoided cuts to key services and reduced our reliance on bonds for capital projects. All this could have been done for less than the $200,000,000 we had in over-collections at the time.
“Now, with double that figure in over-collected revenue, we must act–at the very least–to lower the sales tax on food and stop tuition from continuing to climb. The economy is improving, but our families are still struggling. We have the means to make putting food on the table a little easier and make college a little more affordable. If we ignore this opportunity, it is simply irresponsible. It’s the people’s money; it should be used to their benefit–not for politics.”
News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE -Senate Democrats are calling on state lawmakers from both parties to come together and stop the massive over-collection of taxes from Tennesseans.
The state collected an excess of $338 million in tax revenues that it isn’t spending for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
“This is your government, collecting more of your money than it can spend,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said. “We have heard a lot of talk about tax relief, and now it’s time for them to deliver.”
In June alone, the state collected more than $21 million in excess sales taxes on food and other essentials.
“Higher sales tax collections are a sign that our economy is improving, but many people are still struggling,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney. “By providing tax relief, we can ensure everyone shares in Tennessee’s success, not just our wealthiest citizens.”
Last month, the Senate Democrats called for these increasing revenues to be put towards a further reduction of the sales tax on groceries, and a tuition freeze for the state’s higher education systems.
“Now is not the time to increase the tax on higher education,” said Kyle, “There is no reason that college students should be paying for cost increases when their government is sitting on millions of their tax dollars. We can help them and provide for an additional 1% off the food tax with these excess revenues.”