A proposal has been announced by House Republicans to raise Tennessee transportation revenues through sales tax collections.
State Representative David Hawk of Greeneville presented his plan on Wednesday to use existing sales taxes instead of hiking the gas tax.
Governor Bill Haslam has presented a plan to tackle a $10 billion backlog in road and bridge projects largely by raising the tax on gasoline by 7 cents a gallon and diesel by 12 cents per gallon.
Representative Hawk said the governor has done a tremendous job in coming up with the transportation plan. He added he’s been working on his own proposal to use sales tax since mid-November.
Hawk’s proposal involved taking a quarter of one percent of sales tax to put in the transportation fund. That quarter of one percent was estimated to be around $291 million.
Hawk said his plan would not involve raising taxes of any kind.
“I believe this plan will create a dedicated, recurring fund that prioritizes both the taxpayer dollar and our long-term infrastructure needs,” said Representative Hawk. “I look forward to working with the Governor’s administration on this and other ideas over the coming months.”
During the announcement, Hawk was joined by Representative Glen Casada of Thompson's Station.
“We must find a permanent solution to our transportation funding problems,” continued Representative Casada. “What I like about David Hawk’s plan is that it is simple, it is predictable, and it is a conservative approach using existing dollars in the state budget.”
Hawk’s plan has received a chilly reception from Senate leadership.
Speaker Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican who previously served as chairman of the finance committee, said any departure from the state's existing method of paying for roads through taxes collected at the pump opens the door toward incurring debt and putting the state's fiscal stability at risk.