I believe, when government revenues are higher, that money doesn’t belong to the state but to taxpayers and should be returned to them immediately. Our Majority was placed here to balance the budget, cut wasteful spending and lower taxes. Thanks to last week’s votes, we carried through on that promise.
Another bill was the death tax repeal. We looked at the numbers, rolled our sleeves up and worked with Gov. Bill Haslam to come up with two bills that will really benefit all Tennesseans. The repeal of the death tax is especially noteworthy because it will help convince the job creators in our state to remain here and help grow our economy. This doesn’t benefit one group. It benefits any Tennessean who is concerned about job growth.
House Bill 3760, the death tax repeal, phases out the death tax over the next four years, to a complete repeal by 2016. House Bill 3761, the food tax cut, lowers the sales tax rate on food from the current 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent, the steepest reduction in many years. This was a move to help every Tennessean and it’s something we all can be proud of.
I believe limited government is best. You do that by cutting taxes and ensuring Tennesseans keep more of the money they earn. In turn, they will invest that money, the economy will grow and new career opportunities will emerge.
A recent study shows a repeal of the death tax 10 years ago would have grown our economy an additional 14 percent. While the previous generation of leadership failed to take action, this generation of leadership is committed to charting a new path that creates jobs and limits government. The bills are now sent to the Senate for action which is expected to come in the next week.
Legislation to reform
Last Thursday, the House passed major legislation that will reform how the more than 200 boards and commissions operate within state government. HB 2387, carried by the Majority Leader, is the Legislature’s response to the governor’s review of state boards and commissions. The review determined what duplications and inefficiencies exist within the board and commission structure and sought to determine ways to increase accountability. This bill is consistent with the findings of the review. It includes structural changes to 22 boards and commissions with a focus on performance, accountability and effectiveness.
The legislation merges six boards into three for increased efficiency, eliminates 138 board positions for increased effectiveness, gives a Cabinet level commissioner oversight over five boards for increased accountability, and gives the governor hiring authority for four executive directors for increased accountability.
We are literally downsizing government while, at the same time, increasing efficiency and effectiveness on behalf of taxpayers. That is a win for Tennessee and yet another promise kept by this Majority. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 66-26 and now moves onto the Senate for action in that Chamber.
Reform to oversee
hiring, agency rules
In a major reform move, the House on Wednesday approved plans to completely overhaul guidelines for Tennessee government’s hiring processes and agency rules. The legislation, House Bill 2384, known as the TEAM Act, establishes a system that will attract, select, retain and promote the best applicants and employees based on performance and equal opportunities. The bill ensures these practices are free from coercive political influences and mandates employees to render impartial service to the public at all times.
Additionally, the bill would give agencies greater flexibility in personnel management and increase customer-focused effectiveness and efficiency of state government within a best-practice environment.
The bill passed on a 74-19 bipartisan vote after a thorough debate regarding the merits of the legislation. Supported by the governor, the bill also allows merit raises for high-performing workers and greater flexibility for poor performance. This bill is a much-needed update to our outdated employment system. Tennesseans will see an increased range of service and efficiency from state workers because now we will be able to identify and promote the best workers.