Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On taxes and spending...

Earlier this morning, Mayor Karl Dean spoke to the Kitchen Cabinet (a group of progressive and moderate young professionals) and plugged his push to increase revenues (AKA increase property tax rates) in order to expand and fully fund public safety and education.

His pitch is fairly simple, maintain and increase funding on public safety, education and 'other'.  He wants to increase the starting salary for teachers, fund a DNA crime lab, and invest in capital improvements for schools and other parts of the city.

In total, its a fairly good plan that will (as supporters like to say) Move Nashville Forward.

Of course, the tried and true refrain against the increase in revenues is just as obvious as the emphasis on education and public safety spending.

Some basic iteration of "government should live within its means," "why are we raising taxes on citizens when we are giving tax breaks to corporations" and "its all because of the convention center".  The logical answers (a. this is a silly statement, because government sets its means; b. tax increment financing is a necessary evil in the marketplace of municipal competition; c. its got nothing whatsoever to do with the convention center) are going to be largely irrelevant to the opponents of this measure.

The Beacon Solution, ignore 'em, and the poor will go away.
One of the leaders in the charge to oppose this revenue/tax increase is the Tennessee Center for Policy Research turned Beacon Center of Tennessee.  In a policy paper (loosely defined), TCPRBCT presented an alternative budget which finds the cuts necessary to avoid any increases in revenue.

Gut/eliminate public funding of public transportation, write-off Metro General Hospital, eliminate additional education funding, and about $10 million or so in "other".  In other words, if it even remotely benefits poor people, its 'waste' and should be cut.

Now, maybe you could "trim some fat" here and there...and certainly there are probably some department managers who make more than they might deserve.  But, really, even if you remove a little more gristle here and there, it still doesn't take away from our need to increase revenues and grow the budget of Nashville.

We are a growing city. We've come a long way in the decade I've been here, and I think there is a lot more room for growth and improvement.  While I'm no more enamored with the idea of a tax increase than the next person, I'm happy to stand with the Mayor and many councilmen and women in moving Nashville forward toward being the city we know it can be.