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.

Roy Exum: In Just 23 Minutes

When ‘The Atlantic’ magazine came out with its online edition Tuesday, a story appeared about Donald Trump’s new National Security Advisor, Lt. General H.R. McMaster. It was written by a dear friend that the general and I both enjoy. Since the story appeared, it has been referenced in a myriad of other media outlets and its author has done numerous interviews. As I take the liberty ... (click for more)

Mayoral Analysis

Why have I received four very expensive glossy three-panel fold-out flyers in the U.S. mail, seen several expensive spots on television, been deluged by “Berke for Mayor” signs everywhere, experienced a newspaper that is supposed to have two fair views on topics, however only encourages me to vote for the one person for mayor who should have done well enough over the last four years ... (click for more)

City Police Officer Seriously Injured In Crash On Dodson Avenue

A Chattanooga Police officer was seriously injured in a crash on Dodson Avenue on Friday afternoon.   Police said the injuries to Sean Lynch, 38, are not life-threatening.   Police responded to a traffic crash at 1400 Dodson Ave.   The crash involved a silver Ford 350 van,  (Vehicle #1) a white Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser driven by Officer ... (click for more)

Lawsuit Charges That Georgia Law Firm Stole One Of The Woodmore Elementary Cases From Chattanooga Attorneys

A Circuit Court lawsuit charges that one of the Woodmore Elementary bus wreck cases was stolen from a Chattanooga law firm by Georgia attorneys just shortly after the Nov. 21 tragic crash that killed six students and injured others. It is illegal in Tennessee for attorneys to contact victims of a tragedy for 30 days after the incident. The lawsuit brought by Carl Lewis, father ... (click for more)

Amazing Bradley Builds 32-0 Lead, Routs Cookeville 69-35 In Region 3-3A Tournament

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Bradley Central’s top-ranked Bearettes went into Friday’s Region 3-3A quarterfinal basketball game against Cookeville with several thoughts in mind. Sending a message was one of them. Stamp it delivered. The Bearettes, now at 30-0 with the tradition-rich program’s third-longest winning streak in its history, overwhelmed the Lady Cavaliers with a ... (click for more)

Macon County Ends Season For Signal Mountain Girls

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles entered the first round of the Region 4-AA basketball tournament as the District 7-AA champions and riding high on a seven-game winning streak. The Macon County Tigerettes came to Signal Mountain Friday night for that first-round game on a two-game losing streak and still hurting after finishing fourth in last week’s District 8 gathering. But ... (click for more)