Ramsey signs up to advise coalition pushing gas tax hike

Recently retired Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is joining the newly created Advisory Council of the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee, reports the Nashville Post — presumably to help the promotion of Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act, which includes a gas tax hike.

Rumors have been swirling that Ramsey would be working as a “consultant” on occasion during session, possibly in advance of setting up shop as a registered lobbyist next year, after the one-year cooling off period has ended. And now he’s advising a group pushing for an increase in the state’s transportation funding — some with very vested interests in seeing more new roads built.

The Transportation Coalition press release is below.

News release from Transportation Coalition of Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb 1, 2017) – Passage of comprehensive transportation infrastructure funding reform in 2017 is critical, the leader of a statewide coalition said today.

“We have more than $10.5 billion in much-needed projects across this state,” said Susie Alcorn, executive director of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance. “It is imperative that we reform our funding mechanism to address these needs before we fall even further behind.”

Gov. Bill Haslam ended speculation about his intentions when he announced the Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy or IMPROVE Act, an administration-backed effort to reform transportation infrastructure funding. Included were proposed increases in gas and diesel taxes, automobile registration fees, and alternative vehicles fees, offset by a reduction in the sales tax on food, franchise and excise taxes, and the Hall income tax.

The coalition has worked for the past several years to raise awareness of the state’s infrastructure funding needs. Alcorn says the coalition will now work to support the administration and legislature as they debate transportation funding legislation.

Alcorn says the coalition has created an Advisory Council that includes former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, former Cumberland Region Tomorrow executive director Dr. Bridget Jones, former senior vice president of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce Dexter Muller and Gary Drinnen, a Knoxville advocacy strategist.

“Having these extremely experienced and distinguished individuals agree to join in our effort and give us their advice and counsel is a huge boost to the coalition as we work through the legislative process,” Alcorn said.

Ramsey, a Blountville Republican who retired from the state Senate last year, spent 24 years in the General Assembly.

Jones served 12 years as executive director of Cumberland Region Tomorrow before leaving to launch her firm, jones-bridget consulting group, specializing in collaborative strategies and skilled implementation of asset-based economic and community development projects.

Muller spent 15 years with the Greater Memphis Chamber as senior vice president for community development and was responsible for infrastructure and logistics initiatives.

Drinnen is the founder of Targeted Strategy, a public and government relations firm in Knoxville specializing in grassroots campaigns and fundraising.


The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee was created to educate the public and state legislators as it seeks an increase of and reform in Tennessee’s transportation fees. The coalition aims to recruit other interested parties to join in seeking a comprehensive funding solution to maintain and expand Tennessee’s critical transportation system.

Participants in the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee include businesses, citizens, community leaders, public officials and organizations that are interested in continuing Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure for the long haul.

The Transportation Coalition steering committee includes representatives from the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance, Auto Club Group/AAA Tennessee, Tennessee Public Transportation Association, Tennessee Trucking Association, Tennessee County Highway Officials Association, Tennessee Municipal League, Tennessee City Management Association, American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee and Tennessee Road Builders Association.

Tennessee is a pay-as-you-go state, with transportation projects funded primarily by state and federal fuel tax revenues. The dollars are apportioned for state and local projects, which include maintenance, repair and new construction.

For more information or to join the Transportation Coalition of Tennessee, visit the website at www.TransportationCoalitionTN.org.

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