The Senate Tax Subcommittee gave a thumbs down to a bill that would transferred $65 million in Hall Income Tax revenue from local governments to the state's general fund.
The bill was proposed by Sen. Andy Womack of Murfreesboro. When asked why he brought the bill, Mr. Womack responded: "Because I've got a letter from (Finance Committee Chairman) Senator Henry saying he needs $210 million to balance the budget," Mr. Womack said. "If this bill goes through, we can subtract $65 million from that amount."
After virtually no discussion, Mr. Womack's bill got no votes on the three-member committee. The bill will now go the full Senate Finance Committee with a recommendation that it not be passed.
Despite the reaction of Sen. Womack's bill, there are still several other proposals at the legislature that have to do with the Hall Income Tax, a statewide tax on dividends and bond interest.
In other action, the subcommittee:
* Gave a cold shoulder to a bill that would exempt not-for-profit economic development corporations from property taxes.
The bill was being proposed by Sen. Randy McNally, a member of the three-person body. Subcommittee members Bob Rochelle and Joe Haynes both spoke out against the idea before Mr. McNally asked that the bill be put on hold until the next meeting.
"All these exemptions are part of why we are in this mess to begin with," Mr. Haynes said.
Mr. Rochelle said he was concerned that the proposal might take large chunks of industrial land off the tax rolls indefinitely. "My fear is that one of these economic development organizations will buy about 200 acres of land and then sell parts of it to companies who build there, but parts of it would stay off the tax rolls forever and just sit there," he said.
* Passed 2-1 a bill that would add to the Tennessee Constitution a bill that would specifically prohibit the General Assembly from passing an income tax. The measure is being sponsored by several Republican senators, led by Jeff Miller of Cleveland.
* Passed 3-0 a bill that would provide for a central, statewide tax assessment of cellular phone towers. The bill has proven necessary because many telecommunications companies have sold cellular phone towers to other types of companies - raising questions about their tax assessments.
* Passed 3-0 a bill that would include Tennessee in a nationwide project that will try to set up a system to try to tax Internet sales.
* Deferred action on several bills, including one that would exempt public radio stations from property taxes and another that would prohibit local governments from extending tax breaks longer than 20 years in duration.