After numerous delays, negotiations, and amendments, Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act was approved by the House Transportation Committee on an 11-7 vote.
The bill would increase the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon to 27.4 cents and raise diesel by 12 cents per gallon to 30.4 cents. Also included is a 20 percent cut to the sales tax on groceries, from 5 percent to 4 percent; a cut to the Hall income tax; property tax relief for veterans and the elderly; and reduction in the franchise and excise tax on manufacturing businesses.
One of the main points of contention about this proposal is the fact that Tennessee has seen big surpluses to the state’s general fund, fed by nonhighway tax revenue, and some argue that additional transportation spending should come from that money. But while Tennesseans remain divided—including NFIB/TN members—the proposal did get recent approval from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
Grover Norquist, ATR’s founder and a vocal tax hike opponent, said the most recent version of the bill represents a net tax cut and would not violate any lawmakers’ pledge to not raise taxes.
Regardless, the IMPROVE Act’s future remains uncertain. Stay tuned for more information and action alerts, and be ready to speak out about how this bill would impact your business.