Dean calls for local-option gas tax

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean speaks to a business group in Nashville on March 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean is calling for counties to be allowed the the option of adding a local surcharge to gas taxes collected by the state. Dean says much of those extra taxes would paid for by visitors and that the revenues would allow counties to fund specific infrastructure and transportation programs.

“Unlike my opponent, I believe passing the IMPROVE Act was the right move for Tennessee,” Dean said in a statement. “But we can’t rest; we can’t sit still. As governor, I’ll work with legislators to make transportation infrastructure an even better tool to add jobs and increase access to high-quality education and health care.”

Here’s the release from the Dean campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean called today for a stronger statewide investment in infrastructure to ensure that every county can make faster progress each year toward meeting its transportation needs. 

Dean, a former two-term mayor of Nashville with a record of finding solutions to tough problems, said the state needs to expand on the IMPROVE Act, the 2017 law that increased funding for Tennessee road improvement projects for the first time in nearly thirty years. 

“Unlike my opponent, I believe passing the IMPROVE Act was the right move for Tennessee,” Dean said. “But we can’t rest; we can’t sit still. As governor, I’ll work with legislators to make transportation infrastructure an even better tool to add jobs and increase access to high-quality education and health care.” 

“Building Tennessee’s Tomorrow,” a report published by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations in January 2018, found the state needs more than $24 billion in transportation improvements by 2021. Hamilton and Knox counties need more than $3.5 billion in improvements combined, while Shelby County alone needs more than $3 billion, Madison County needs nearly $400 million and Williamson County needs more than $700 million. 

To start addressing those and other sizable gaps throughout the state, Dean proposes creating a dedicated funding source by enabling counties to implement a local-option gas tax — much of which would be paid by visitors — to use on road infrastructure and their own transportation programs. 

Dean also would appoint a transportation advisory committee to study transportation issues and develop a comprehensive plan that would help citizens throughout the state, and he would name a Department of Transportation commissioner with the necessary experience and expertise. 

“Without a strong transportation network across our 95 counties, it’s much more difficult to create a future in which every Tennessean can succeed,” Dean said. “Everyone from parents to truck drivers to county commissioners has a stake in making it easier to move around our great state.”

24 Responses to Dean calls for local-option gas tax

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Casada will help you pass it, don’t worry. Republicans LOVE the gas tax

  • James White says:

    More Taxes, More Government, More Regulations, Less Liberty and Fewer Freedoms.
    No. Do not give any more authority to TAX !

    • Bob Fischer says:

      According to the US Constitution, Article 1 Section 8, the primary purpose of our government is to tax and operate the finances of said government.

  • William Upton says:

    First thing a democrat wants to talk about, raising taxes! Doing it at the county level he won’t be directly responsible. Brilliant!

  • Chiron Venizelos says:

    At least Karl Dean is honest about wanting to screw people out of their hard-earned money. Haslam sold Tennessee a bill of goods that was specifically designed to help his business and his rich crony friends. The so-called IMPROVE Act. Here’s how it worked: When a vendor collects taxes for the government, they get to keep a certain percentage for doing so. They also send in a check once per quarter to the state so they get to keep any interest they earn while those funds are in the bank. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money but Pilot and Flying J collect MILLIONS of dollars each quarter and the return on interest is a big sum of money. Then, repealing the Hall income tax gives wealthy folks a huge tax relief. Meanwhile, the working clods have to pay more to have fuel to take them to their jobs and the trucking companies who deliver their food and goods to stores add a fuel surcharge which increases the costs of everything they buy. Now, we learn of the new tax added to our license tag costs in July; the working class is screwed again! We have been BETRAYED by BOTH parties in Tennessee but, at least, Bill Lee claims he wants to make things better.

    • MarLE says:

      Chiron….are the rich using any more government services than the poor and if so what are they. If they aren’t using more why should they pay more. And as for the Hall Tax and Death Tax being removed….why was there a tax placed on wealth in the first place? The rich were singled out for a tax break to remedy the unfortunate fact that they were singled out for a tax burden to begin with. And I think you’re off base on the length of time that the “Haslam organization” gets to keep the tax collected.

  • Jody Ball says:

    Wow! Before long residents will not be able to afford to visit the city they live in. Tourism is already Taxed for anything and everything in Nashville. Or just take a look at how much Tennessee has already taken from tourists. Might get it once, eventually they will no longer visit our state. Then how will this get paid for.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    Unfortunately, Bill Lee is managed by Corker’s handlers. They will encourage him to stay away from conservative movements that , although immediately unpopular, will eventually save this Republic. That’s the sad part-Lee doesn’t know this.

  • Christina Norris says:

    Dean did an excellent job as Nashville’s Mayor and he’ll do an even better job as Tennessee’s governor.

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  • Tennessee Jed says:

    I don’t know if this is the solution, but there is certainly a major issue continuing to develop in Nashville and surrounding areas. Traffic is awful and it is only going to get worse.

    The problem is that Nashville itself can’t address the problem. The problem with Nashville traffic and infrastructure isn’t caused by people living in Davidson County. It is all the commuters from Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties. They live there and work in Nashville. They clog up Nashville roads but balk when there is any discussion of paying their share of the cost.

    • James White says:

      The problem with Nashville started when they consolidated and became Metro.

      • Tennessee Jed says:

        Why? I would rather have one government running things than two for the same area. Just more wasted tax dollars. Maybe it’s okay if the city is highly urbanized and the outlying portions of the county are very rural leading to very different sets of problems to tackle, but that is not the case in Nashville.

        My guess is that you point to Metro consolidation as the precipitous event for leading to increased suburbanization of the outlying counties…especially Williamson. However, I believe you would have seen that regardless. Most homebuyers want the same white picket fence and two-car garage with a quality school for Jimmy and Jane. Davidson County, whether or not Metro consolidated, was running out of real estate to allow for the average middle-class family to afford that set up. It naturally pushed a lot of families into Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner. Metro consolidation may have pushed the more affluent to Williamson, but it is not the reason for the population explosion into those other counties.

        Regardless of why it occurred, it still remains a problem that must be addressed and it’s going to take a solution that allows mid-state residents to pay for it rather than the cost being forced on all Tennesseans who will obviously resent the high cost of the vast increases in capacity.

    • MarLE says:

      Raising taxes on anyone, at any time, for any reason is bad, bad, bad. That is the Republican mantra. No matter that people who commute to Metro and earn their paycheck there are paying no property taxes ( and neither is their employer if they are a gov or non-profit or have some sweetheart tax deal) and, if they fill up at home, no local gas tax either. But “taxes are always bad, always bad”. “Two feet bad/four feet good”. Maybe we need to write that on the side of the barn.

      • Tennessee Jed says:

        I don’t come from that wing of conservatives. My problem is when the government wastes those tax dollars on items that do not effectively deliver benefits based on the cost. I am against wasteful spending and sweetheart deals that fail to deliver an even greater economic impact. In doing so, budgets should be balanced with solid rainy day funds built up to prepare for shortfalls.

        Infrastructure is one of the basic functions of government. If we cut the wastefulness and corruption, then I am okay raising taxes to pay for needed infrastructure improvements. Better than spending money we don’t have and running massive deficits. And if you do raise taxes, they should be narrowly tailored to be paid by those who most stand to benefit from the spending outlay.

        A long way of saying, I am okay with giving authority to local governments to make these decisions. However, in the case of the greater Nashville area, I don’t think a Davidson County only increase in the gas tax is the solution. To address the mid-state’s problems, it is going to take making the Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, and Sumner county residents who commute in pay for the infrastructure improvements as well as Davidson County.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Nashville bribes companies to locate downtown at the behest of Nashville developers and other insiders. Employees of these companies who, I ASSURE YOU, would much rather work closer to home if they live in the suburbs are forced to commute downtown as a result of this wheeling and dealing. Now it’s proposed that citizens in the suburbs most of whom have no part in creating this problem and don’t commute downtown pay for this growing fiasco. PUT ME DOWN AS A “NO”!

    • MarLE says:

      As a metro homeowner I already pay for the traffic problem and the police and a whole host of additional cost related to commuting and I only moved here after I had retired.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Of all places to live in the Mid-State area, why on earth would you choose to not only live in Metro, but actually own property in that liberal ghetto?

        • MarLE says:

          Some of us choose to spend the bulk of our waking hrs in Metro by owning prop and living there. Others choose to do the same; they are called commuters. But only one of us is paying a disproportional percentage of the bills. The answer is not for me to move but for them to pony up.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Of course not!!! “Commuters” by and large are poor blokes who happen to work for companies that have received a sweetheart deal to locate in Metro so their employees are forced to bear the costs of commuting downtown to earn their daily bread. They are already “ponying up” as you so indelicately put it. Now you probably would love to tax those who have the wisdom to live in one of the communities surrounding Metro and have little to do with Metro’s endless problems as well. On the other hand you have, as you said, chosen to live in Metro for reasons that surpasses understanding.

            You see how the last brilliant idea of solving Metro’s transportation problems was greeted by the voters of Metro when they had a chance to voice their opinion despite the idea’s support from The Great and The Good of the community. Just wait until such a measure makes its way to the suburbs!

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            As a matter of fact, I have been mystified by your serial criticisms of Marsha Blackburn while your leaving Chuck Schumer’s candidate for Tennessee Senator unmentioned. Now I learn about your decision to live and actually own property in the liberal ghetto of Metro and I begin to see a pattern of aberrant behavior that makes it all kind of make sense.

          • FuzzyBagels says:

            It’s great putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, living in the area that you love and spend your time!

            A lot of the problem has been caused by the political elite who have arranged, for instance, to have the THOUSANDS of employees who work at Bridgestone to move right downtown. Their parking garage can’t even accommodate all of the employees, so they have to park in the Music City Center garage with all kinds of ramifications of that.

            And, perhaps Nashville/Davidson County could afford to do the things that government should take care of – like infrastucture – if funding wasn’t spent on things like sports stadiums. In the midst of needing nearly $200 million in renos to the Titan Stadium, the political elite are running roughshod over the citizens (previous referendum on the fairgrounds) and Metro Council itself, for $270 million debt for an MLS stadium when soccer can be and was designed to be accommodated at the Titans Stadium. All while Nashville/Davidson County is BROKE and has not funded its retirees’ benefits.

            When traffic seems to be so high on the priority list for Nashvillians, the political elite should prioritize addressing it over things government has no business being involved in.

        • MarLE says:

          My serial criticism has to do with issues at the national level. Period. And I have outlined them many times on this blog. And the term pony up is indelicate? And this from a Trump supporter?
          Maybe there is something in that characterization that speaks volumes about you.

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