Defeat Tennessee Income Tax Measure
a remarkable display of GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE, thousands
of angry Tennesseans stormed the state capitol to defeat a budget
proposal that would have established a state income tax.
the third consecutive year, protesters claimed victory against Republican
Governor Don Sundquist and other state lawmakers who contend that
an income tax is needed to get Tennessee out of "financial
peril." Opponents to the added tax say that it is responsible
government and less spending that is needed, not new taxes.
When it was all said and done, it was the oppositions message
that carried the day, as the legislature passed a budget with no
new revenue and abandoned its plans for a state income tax.
budget negotiations began several months ago and news spread that
lawmakers again were working to pass a state income tax, two Nashville
radio stations as they have done in previous years
joined forces to get the word out and rally opposition at the state
capitol. Steve Gill, one of the stations early morning talk
show hosts, set up a broadcast tent near the capitol and urged his
listeners to drive by and honk their horns in opposition to any
protests several times forced state lawmakers back to the drawing
board on the budget, as numerous plans to increase taxes were defeated.
The stalemate between income tax proponents and opponents led lawmakers
to approve a temporary budget on June 29 to keep the government
from shutting down on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
word got out before the final budget vote that Governor Sundquist
and some senators were making a last ditch effort to garner support
for a state income tax, thousands of taxpayers, some traveling several
hours to join the protest, gathered in the halls and around the
state capitol carrying signs and honking their horns in objection
to the measure. Traffic encircling the capitol was at a standstill,
as horns blared and protesters chanted "TAX REVOLT" and
"NO INCOME TAX."
minutes before the final vote, state police locked the doors to
the Capitol as legislators claimed the crowd was getting out-of-control.
According to news reports, the protesters banged on locked doors,
accosting lawmakers and even broke a window in the governors
office. Some lawmakers said the crowd was chanting so loudly that
lawmakers could barely conduct business. These reports were denied
by many who attended the protest and described the scene as peaceful.
the news of the Senate vote in favor of the "no new revenue"
budget passed by the House a few days prior, and the defeat of the
income tax filtered out of legislative chambers, the crowd of protesters
roared in victory.
final budget uses $560 million of the states tobacco settlement
money and cuts $339 million from Governor Sundquists proposed
$19.9 billion budget. In addition, it requires state agencies to
find an additional $100 million or more in savings.
Sundquist, who is the prime champion of a state income tax after
promising during his 1998 campaign to prevent such a tax from passing
while he was in office, has said the budget is a "likely candidate
for a veto." Lawmakers will return on August 7 if the governor
follows through on his veto threat. A simple majority in both houses,
whose members face reelection this year, could override the governors
Amidst a Sea of Protesters,
Tennessee Lawmakers Override Budget Veto
On August 7, Tennessee lawmakers assembled at the state capitol to override Governor Don Sundquists veto of the state budget passed just weeks earlier, following through with their promise to abandon plans for a state income tax.
More than 1,000 protesters once again rallied at the State House to express their support for the budget veto override.
The House voted first (66-33) followed by the Senate (18-12). This is the second year in a row that the legislature overrode the governors veto of a budget that did not call for the establishment of a state income tax.
On another note, those sources that reported the crowd of protesters were violent and rowdy when they rallied to defeat income tax measures last month, failed to get their story straight. Apparently, Sargent Harold Gooding, a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper, was videotaped grabbing a protester after he fell or was pushed to the floor and dragging him by the legs across the ground. After a four-week investigation, Gooding was suspended for two weeks without pay, will be indefinately transferred from his assignment at the State House, and will be forced to attend an anger-management course
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