Tennessee: Goetz not ruling out 'small' tax increase

Tennessee: Goetz not ruling out 'small' tax increase

May 19th, 2009 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE - While the Bredesen administration is not currently proposing additional tax increases to offset cuts to mental health and children's services, Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said today he is not ruling it out.

First though, enough lawmakers must show interest in the idea, he said.

"We have to look to see what has to be done," Mr. Goetz said this morning. "I think there's a tremendous amount of concern (among lawmakers) over very specific things such as dealing with mental health and children's services. I think those are the things that you just hear repeatedly.

"Could something small be done that might help those? I don't know," Mr. Goetz said. "I think we're waiting to hear what the legislators think about what they want to do."

The administration is not recommending any new taxes "at this point" beyond what was laid out in its original budget, he said.

Faced with what could be a $1.4 billion revenue shortfall by June 30, the administration is scrambling to assemble a package of cuts and use of federal stimulus funds.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said Friday he expected the amendment this week, but Mr. Goetz said that probably won't happen.

"We're working on that this week, and I won't know that (if it will be ready next week) until we get it finished," he said.

The commissioner's comments came after he left a closed-door meeting with House Democrats. The meeting left Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, and other lawmakers shaken at what they said was the enormity of the cuts facing Tennessee.

"Right now, I'm really feeling frightened and lost," Rep. Brown said.

But she added that she intends to quickly regroup and seek additional information.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.