NASHVILLE - Senate and House Democrats today called on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to convene a special session of the Legislature and use state revenue surpluses to offset planned higher education tuition hikes and cut the sales tax on groceries further.
"The money is there," Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, said at a news conference. "The issue on the table is what are we going to do with the taxpayers' money? Are we going to help the folks who are trying to go to school, who are buying food, or are we going to hold it?"
Democrats say state revenues so far this fiscal year are about $225 million above original revised estimates. They want to use $78 million of that to offset planned tuition increases that the University of Tennessee system is expected to approve on Thursday and similar increases before the Tennessee Board of Regents system next week.
Haslam and the Republican-controlled Legislature this year, with Democrats' support, cut the existing 5.5 percent sales tax on food to 5.25 percent. Democrats at the time unsuccessfully argued it should be more.
Cutting the sales tax on groceries by a penny would cost the state about $85 million annually.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.