Tenn. Legislature Disregarding Tax Revolt
- First A Massive Tax Revolt Upon The Capitol,Now Tenn. Legislators Try To Circumvent ItWe have previously pointed out that it appears that Tennessee has billions of dollars hidden from the public's eyes they do not want known about. (See Tennessee's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and the comments of Walter J. Burien, Jr. at the end of this article.) *The Tennessee Income Tax- June 16, 2000
Hostage Day Number 3
LEADERSHIP: 1. A person or thing that leads. 2. Ability to lead. 3. An act or instance of leading. 4. The leaders of a group.
Well, well, to say that LEADERSHIP has been in short supply, if not totally absent is a real understatement. The General Assembly is in such disarray that it is tragic.
The Conference Committee convened in Room 16 shortly after 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning where Senator Doug Henry (D-Nashville) presented Minority Report # 1. [By the way, yesterday was Senator and Mrs. Henry's 51st anniversary. She
spent all day with him at the Capitol.] In general it would have placed a 1% sales tax on all goods and services that have been exempt from the present sales tax. This plan would be expected to raise around $450 million per year.
After much discussion, Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) stepped in with his plan, (a twist on what Senator Henry had proposed) which he called the Forward Momentum plan. This would be a 1 1/2% tax on the items now exempt and would
beginning January 2001. It would be expected to raise $174 million (Jan-June) and $350 million for the full fiscal, July 2001-June 2002.
After additional discussion, Senator Kyle commented that this "isn't the prettiest girl on the block" but it would work. The vote was called for and when the Senate side voted (by voice) I heard only one or two NOES. But when the House side voted, it sounded like more NOES than YESES, but Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis) gaveled it passed.
The moment the meeting ended at nearly eleven, the lobbyists rushed out into the hall to report back to their employers on the proposal. Folks were all over the place on their cell phones. Lots of businesses would feel these new taxes.
As it came out of committee, this is a HUGE tax increase and would mean that the state is unwilling to live within its means. This was another "scene" in the "HIGH DRAMA" that continues to unfold at the Capitol-- an income tax being the goal. The Governor and some of his allies are determined to fund the inflated budget and are unwilling to adjust the budget to fit the revenue.
The HIGH DRAMA then moved to the House floor at 2:00 p.m. where Rep. Shelby Rhinehart (D-Spencer) presented Minority Committee Report # 1 (the Kyle plan). After discussion, the Report failed on a 0-94 vote, with not even the
sponsor voting in favor of the plan. Folks, in my 13 years on the hill, I have NEVER seen the voting board with all red lights on it - quite a site.
Rep. Zane Whitson (R-Unicoi) presented Minority Report # 2, which would have increased the state portion of the sales tax from 6% to 6 1/4%. This plan would be expected to raise about $192 million per year and take care of an ever-increasing budget for two to three years. That proposal failed on at
14-77-1 vote. Still no talk of reducing spending!!
PROCEDURAL NOTE: There is no limit to the number of Minority Reports which can be presented to the House and Senate. HOWEVER, the MAJORITY Report, which contains a state income tax, is sitting on the desk of the House and
Senate awaiting action. Don't forget that!!
Then came Rep. Jere Hargrove (D-Cookeville) and others with Minority Report # 3. This plan is a new twist on the bill the House originally passed. However, in this version the residential energy tax is deleted but the manufacturing energy tax is left in; the "sin" taxes are raised (which haven't been raised since probably the 1960s); the bottler's gross receipts tax increases by one tenth of one percent; several revenues are recaptured or redirected.This plan would produce $18,558,000 in new revenue and
$56,094,000 in recaptured and redirected revenue. At the end of the day, either the House budget would have to be reduced by about $75 million or use an equal amount of tobacco money.
During the discussion, one representative said, while speaking in support of this plan, "maybe the income tax is a better 'money machine'. I couldn't help but think, "just what state government needs is an unrestrained 'money machine'". This plan squeaked by on a 50-40-1 vote.
Then the DRAMA moved to the Senate. Procedurally, this report must 'lay on the desk' for 24 hours before the Senate can act on it. After much discussion, much posturing and confusion, the Senate voted to "suspend the rules" so the Minority Report would be properly before them when they meet today at 10:00 a.m. The House meets at 11:00 a.m. Neither body has acted on the Appropriations bill.
Should this plan pass the Senate today, the Governor has vowed to veto it. It would then come back to the General Assembly for a veto override. A veto override requires 50 votes in the House and 17 in the Senate. Since it only passed by 50 votes in the House, an override might be 'iffy'.
There are two schools of thought on this bill: One is that passing it would protect us from a state income tax this year and, providing the veto can be overridden, would prohibit the government shut down July 1st. The other is that it still raises taxes and increases state government.
Someone said to me yesterday: "There are three kinds of people who spend other peoples' money: children, thieves, and politicians, and they all need constant supervision."
My observations: The General Assembly does not know anything they didn't know in January, except that revenues have come in above predictions. Some have been complicit in this dark drama and have become willing hostages.
They could have passed a balanced budget in April, let the Governor veto it, returned to override the veto and gone home, forcing the state to live within it means. We certainly have some heroes to be grateful for, but a small group legislators and the governor have been determined to have an state income tax and now the legislators find themselves staring at the June 30th
Call legislators at
1-800-449-8366.Sent by G. Keasling of Tenn.
* Below sent to JAIL by Walter Burien, Jr.KEEP IN MIND that the state CAFR is just that, the state CAFR. How many counties, cities, townships, authorities, school districts, pensions are there in Tennessee. Each puts out it's own CAFR or CFS (Combined Financial Statement) Composite totals are substantially greater than State Gov., Inc.'s totals, i.e. - New Jersey State Gov. combined totals 285 billion - NJ State Gov. plus 21 counties, hundreds of cities and municipalities, school districts, 69 authorities, pensions, combined totals as of 1999 equals 1.8 Trillion dollars. When looking for surpluses, don't just open one door in a mansion
that has 200 doors.
I strongly suggest getting a copy of the Tennessee Valley Authority's CAFR. That 10 billion surplus figure quoted regarding the state will in most likelihood look small in comparison.
Walter J. Burien, Jr.
* The below here seems to be footnotes explaining Tennessee's billions of dollars of hidden money. For further information, we suggest you write to Walter Burien, Jr. at his email below.FOR USE IN TENNESSEE
1. Here's our annual budget for operating our local government, and the growth of our government over the last ten years. (Excessive growth in most cases is the rule)
2. Here's the total investments and gross cash receipts from (all) city, county, state, school districts, enterprise groups, and the annual return on those investments. (all of the above have financial responsibility to every person living in your town)
3. Here's the approximate net worth of the above; CAFRs and CFS give consolidated summaries of what you are looking for, and if not shown in the combined financial columns, the notes of the report should direct you where to continue your search. (income, investment return, and value of assets
both real-estate and physical property)
4. Consolidating the wealth, with a little applied prudent financial
management, and using the return from the investment funds, surpluses, return from enterprise operations, and ALL cash generating ventures and assets, this can satisfy the budgetary basis allowing for the elimination of all forced taxation in our town from this point forward.
5. When considering the above, with good business management being applied to benefit "The Public's Interests", we, in all respects, should not continue to pay any further forced taxation, and in fact if individuals from within the controlling sect of the new "Corporate Government, Inc." which has been in development since 1945, continue to conduct "Business As Usual" manipulating the application of forced taxation in what can be only considered nothing other than unlawful enterprise actions, should we not as a unified peoples consider and immediately implement RICO actions against
our management officials from local governments and those from outside of government as accomplices, that continue to perpetuate this runaway freight train of corporate empire building taking place within government today?
RICO = Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
Racketeering originally, an organized conspiracy to commit extortion. Today, punishable offenses created by Congress to "seek the eradication of organized crime by establishing new penal prohibitions and by providing enhanced sanctions and new remedies to deal with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime." Public Law 91-452, section 1, 84 Statutes At Large 922 (1970). The federal statute is entitled "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act [RICO]" under Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (18 U.S.C. sections 1961-68) and many states have adopted similar statutes, e.g., N.J.S.A. 2C:41-1.1 et seq.
There are four punishable racketeering offenses under the federal statute:
(1) directly or indirectly investing income derived from a pattern of racketeering activity or through collection of an unlawful debt in any enterprise affecting trade or commerce;
(2) acquiring or maintaining any interest in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of an unlawful debt;
(3) conducting or participating in the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of an unlawful debt; or
(4) Conspiring to violate the racketeering provisions.
The above is about half of the definition of Racketeering taken from Barron's Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition, page 411.
Walter J. Burien, Jr.
J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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