Haslam to unveil 'economic growth' plan Wednesday

Haslam to unveil 'economic growth' plan Wednesday

January 17th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a news...

Photo by Erik Schelzig

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday will unveil a plan for "sustaining economic growth" in Tennessee, a package many Republican lawmakers expect will include a transportation proposal with fuel tax increases to fund it while also addressing tax surpluses in non-related areas.

According to an announcement today from the governor's press office, Haslam's legislative agenda "will focus on building and sustaining economic growth and the state's competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans."

Although it makes no mention of increasing Tennessee's gas and diesel taxes, Haslam has discussed the issue in recent weeks of private talks with state lamwakers. 

Tennessee hasn't raised its fuel taxes since 1989. Haslam first began saying in mid-2015 the state needed to do something to address a $6 billion backlog of previously approved road projects as well as the need to get billions of dollars in additional projects he has said that face decades of delays.

At the same time, the state has a nearly $1.9 billion surplus, including $1 billion in one-time money from non-fuel tax revenues, that goes to general government areas including K-12 and higher education. 

Lawmakers say that any fuel tax increase must be accompanied by corresponding reductions in one or more of these other taxes.

Haslam's office say that since 2011, the administration and General Assembly have cut $500 million in recurring expenditures from the state's budget while cutting taxes by $270 million.

"Wednesday's announcement will build on that priority while ensuring Tennessee is positioned for continued growth, prosperity and opportunity," Haslam's office said in its news release.

Tennessee's gas tax is 21.4 cents per gallon while diesel is pegged at 18.4 cents. 

The governor's announcement on Wednesday will take place in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the State Capitol.