Hall tax repeal prompts letter-writing war between GOP legislators and Democrats

A letter-writing war has been underway in recent editions of The Cleveland Daily Banner between Republican state legislators representing Bradley County and Democrats. A letter from state Democratic  Chair Mary Mancini was the latest episode and prompted the newspaper to do a roundup story that chronicles the back-and-forth written sniping.

Seems things started with a Nov. 9 letter to the editor from Carl  Lansden, a former chairman of the Bradley County Democratic Party, criticizing state Sens. Mike Bell and Todd Gardenhire, along with Reps. Kevin Brooks and Dan Howell, over their votes to repeal the state’s Hall income tax on investment earnings. Lansden blamed the phased-in repeal of the tax – three-eighths of revenue received goes to local governments – for loss of money that prompted a 29 cent increase in the Bradley County property tax rate.

The four legislators then sent a joint letter to the newspaper denouncing Democrats. Excerpt:

“A recent letter to the editor criticizing the work and tax cuts of the Tennessee General Assembly perfectly frames the fundamental disagreement between Democratic and Republican principles: While Democrats believe in higher taxes and hold a ‘government knows best’ attitude, Republicans advocate for lower taxes for all and firmly believe as much money as possible should remain in your wallet to spend on those things you deem most important.”

Excerpt from Mancini’s letter in reply:

“After reading your letter to the editor concerning the Hall income tax, I have to ask: While you have been depleting much-needed revenue that can keep rural hospitals open and our bridges safe to drive on, what have you done to ensure that all Tennesseans have the opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families?” Mancini’s letter cited.

She added, “Let me ask it another way: What do you see happening in Bradley County and in every other county in this great state we call home?”

The Tennessee Democratic chair then answered her own question.

“I’ll tell you what we see,” she wrote. “We see distress. We see empty manufacturing sites that were once thriving with industry and opportunity for good-paying jobs. We see that once proud homeowners are now two paychecks away from eviction. We see nine rural hospitals that are now closed. We see bridges too weak for a kindergarten school bus to drive on.”

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