Commentary from State Rep. Mike Sparks (Republican in Smyrna, TN):
"Thank you for the opportunity to explain my position in regards to the Governor's Improve Act. The legislation seeks to raise the gas tax 6-cent-per-gallon gas tax and 10-cent-per-gallon diesel tax, raise registration fees on vehicles, increases the tax on rental car usage, and places a $100 fee on electric and hybrid vehicles, respectively.
According to TDOT, our state's infrastructure is number two in the nation (TDOT officials have personally stated to me our state is number one in the nation for infrastructure if the Texas road debt of road $23 billion was factored in) and our state budget currently has over a $1 billion surplus. In my opinion, a 1 percent cut to the food tax will be more than offset by rising cost of goods and services due to the gas tax increase. Trucking companies, who rely heavily on the use of diesel fuel, will simply tack on surcharges that will increase food costs, which hurts hardworking families.
Under Governor Bill Haslam's leadership, Tennessee and especially my district of Smyrna, La Vergne and north Murfreesboro have been extremely blessed. We have had record capital investment, including the new $45 million Tennessee College of Applied Technology, the $147 million MTSU Science building and expansions to Motlow State Community College, the fastest growing college; much to the credit of Gov. Haslam's education vision with the Tennessee Promise scholarship and mentoring program.
Americans have until April 17 to file their federal tax returns this year, and ironically, according to the Tax Foundation, the average American will have to work from Jan. 1 until exactly that day just to pay his or her share of the taxes that government will absorb this year. Locally, property taxes have increased, health care and other cost have risen, but one area that students, families and seniors have found relief is at the gas pump.
At last count, I heard there were over 60 lobbyists working tirelessly to raise the gas tax here at the Tennessee State Capitol. The people of my district don't have 60 lobbyists, they have one advocate and that's their state representative. The people have placed a great deal of trust in me, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
Ronald Reagan once said, "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
Reforming state government by sharpening our ax in reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and doing more with less should be our state government's number one priority. I look forward to working with Governor Haslam and my fellow legislators on solving our state's problems. I will continue to listen to policy makers, advocates, even those 60 lobbyists, but most importantly I will continue to listen to my constituents, so I plan on voting 'no' on the gas tax."
(Mike Sparks is the former Vice Chairman of House Transportation and serves in the 49th house district, which includes area of Smyrna, La Vergne, north Murfreesboro and Almaville. He can be reached at MikeSparksTn@gmail.com or call his office 615-741-6829)