Rep. Watson: Lawmakers Cut Taxes, Adjourn In Timely Manner

Friday, April 26, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson
Rep. Eric Watson
Rep. Eric Watson
This week, We wrapped up one of the most successful legislative sessions in Tennessee history. The first legislative session of the 108th General Assembly was focused on passing commonsense legislative initiatives to aid both immediate and long-term economic development in Tennessee’s private sector.

Measures to cut taxes, ensure employers find Tennessee an attractive destination for their businesses, and reinvigorate the state’s education system to better train the next generation of Tennessee workers were among the House's priorities. In addition, House legislators worked hard this year to ensure the state continues to foster an environment where new jobs are created and small business can thrive.


I am proud of what the legislature accomplished together this session, and adjourning this early reflects the legislature’s commitment to conducting its business in an efficient and effective manner. I have enjoyed working with Governor Haslam and my colleagues in the General Assembly to help make Tennessee the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. I look forward to building upon the progress we have made this session to make our state an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. With a successful year behind us, the House lawmakers are now ready to continue studying sound fiscal policy in order to carry forward this year’s efforts into the next session.

In the final week of the legislative session, the House of Representatives passed Tennessee’s annual budget with an 83 – 14 vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a fiscally responsible and balanced budget. The $32.6 billion budget cuts taxes by $43 million, puts $100 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, improves our educational system, and provides an even better environment for businesses to grow and for jobs to flourish.

At the beginning of the year, lawmakers promised Tennesseans that fiscal responsibility would be a priority. The budget they crafted holds true to that principle while ensuring Tennesseans get the services they expect.

I want to thank my colleagues for a job well done. With the help of Governor Haslam, House and Senate legislators worked seamlessly to pass a forward-thinking budget that embodies the principles and priorities of all Tennesseans.

Budget highlights include:

Tax Cuts
At the beginning of this legislative session, House leaders promised they would do everything to maintain the state’s strong financial record, balance the budget, and return hard-earned tax dollars back to all Tennesseans. Over the last several months, they followed through on that promise, ensuring every Tennessean across the state will realize tax savings to the tune of $43 million this year, including:


* A drop in the state sales tax on groceries from 5.25% to a flat 5.00% rate which will save taxpayers approximately $25 million statewide. This tax reduction builds on efforts during the last legislative session which reduced the sales tax on food from 5.5% to 5.25%. Lawmakers hope to continue this trend in years to come;


* Implementation of the second phase to eliminate Tennessee’s death tax, which is set to be completely phased out by 2016. Lawmakers argue the death tax breaks up family farms and small businesses, forcing families to make tough decisions during what is often the most difficult times in their lives: the passing of a loved one. In many cases, families are faced with selling off parts of farms and land or closing a small, family-owned business in order to pay the tax bill. The full repeal of the death tax will represent a $94.6 million tax cut;


* A cut in the Hall tax for seniors 65 and older. The Hall tax is imposed on income derived from interest on bonds, notes, and stock dividends. Since enactment of the Hall tax in 1929, the use of investment savings has grown as a primary source of retirement income. Because of this fact, lawmakers argue the Hall tax is actually an income tax, especially for seniors living on a fixed income. The Hall tax cut approved in the budget raises the income exemption level from $26,200 to $33,000 for single filers and from $37,000 to $59,000 for joint filers. Lawmakers have promised to build on this tax cut in the future;


* And, a continuation of property tax relief efforts passed in previous years to help veterans, seniors, and the disabled population of Tennessee.

Hypocritical Censorship Of The Bible - And Response (2)

Dear Senators Kelsey and Niceley:  Last week's censorship of recognizing the Bible as our state book, shows the hypocrisy of promoting unAmerican philosophies while getting rid of the Bible and its historical significance as well as its bringing God's blessings upon the state.  Let me once more reiterate the absolute favoritism in religion toward the Roman Catholic ... (click for more)

Everyday Hero In Highland Park - And Response (2)

Baylor School student James Loftin spent his  Sunday  afternoon mowing Tatum Park, a Chattanooga City Park, also marked as a memorial to the late Judith Schorr, active community member and former Highland Park Neighborhood Association President. According to Mr. Loftin, several Highland Park Neighborhood Association members have visited Chattanooga City Hall to express ... (click for more)

Erlanger's Good Financial News Continues With $11.4 Million Profit For Past 3 Months; Profit At $25.3 Million After 9 Months

Erlanger Health System's good financial news keeps coming - with the announcement on Monday of a profit of $11.4 million for the past three months. Brit Tabor said the hospital has a profit of $25.3 million for the first nine months of the fiscal year. Kevin Spiegel, hospital president, said more good news is projected for the fourth quarter. Mr. Tabor said, "Our market ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Get $100 Million New Electronic Medical Records System

Erlanger Health System will be getting a new electronic medical records system costing just short of $100 million, Erlanger CEO and President Kevin Spiegel said Monday. He said the old Legacy IT system was the hospital's #1 dissatisfaction source. The hospital board is to be asked to approve the system, which will be paid for over several years, at the May board meeting. ... (click for more)

Zach Mercer No-Hits Notre Dame In 1-0 Duel With Alex Darras

Zach Mercer has won some big baseball games during his career as a pitcher for the Chattanooga Christian Chargers, but none have been any bigger than the 1-0 victory over visiting Notre Dame Monday afternoon. And he was almost perfect as only a fourth-inning walk to opposing pitcher Alex Darras and another walk to Quinton Buckman in the seventh kept it from being a perfect game. ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Mercer Near Perfect As CCS Shuts Out Notre Dame, 1-0