But he probably won’t.
Not in 2015, anyway.
Just yesterday, the Tennessee Education Association called on Haslam to deliver on his teacher pay promise.
But Haslam says the state is out of money and can’t possibly be raising anyone’s pay.
Back in October, Haslam said paying teachers more, “might be a good idea.”
But again, the issue comes back to where to find the money.
Why isn’t there any money?
Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote back in April:
Where’d the Money Go? Governor Haslam blames the $160 million hole in the budget on lower than expected corporate taxes. However, no mention is made of the $46 million in lost revenue from a 1/2 cent decrease in the state portion of the sales tax on food. While removing or reducing the sales tax on food is a laudable goal, doing so without finding revenue to replace it is irresponsible. The sales tax on food is the most reliable portion of state revenue. Additional revenue is lost by the gradual phase out of Tennessee’s estate tax, previously impacting estates over $1 million. The plan is to phase that out entirely by 2016, with an estimated revenue loss of around $30 million this year and around $97 million in 2016-17′s budget. So, that’s roughly $76 million, or close to half of the projected shortfall for the upcoming budget cycle. To his credit, Haslam says he wants to hold off on efforts to repeal the Hall tax on investment income – a tax paid by a small number of wealthy Tennesseans with investment income. However, he has also said reducing or eliminating the Hall tax is a goal. Phasing out the tax, as proposed in legislation under consideration this year at the General Assembly, would mean a loss of $20 million in the 2015-16 budget year and an ultimate loss in state funds of $160 million a year and in local revenue of $86 million a year.
The interesting thing is, overall revenue collection is UP in Tennessee for the first three months of FY2015.
Yes, collections for certain corporate taxes contiue to fall, but despite this, overall revenue keeps going up.
Here’s the breakdown based on reports from the Department of Revenue:
Month Overall Increase Sales Tax Increase
July 2.4% 3.1%
August 3.7% 6.7%
Sept. 7.4% 5.3%
Oct. 5.7% 7.3%
So, net revenue is up before any tax loopholes that are allowing business tax revenue to escape are closed.
If that trend continues, it would seem difficult for Haslam to keep making the argument that there’s just no money available to invest in schools.
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