Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 28, 2010:
NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for governor, again questioned today whether Mayor Bill Haslam would ultimately institute a state income tax if elected governor to deal with the state’s looming budget deficit. Wamp based his concern on Haslam’s record of pushing through the largest property tax increase in Knoxville’s history and the Haslam family’s political and financial support for a new state income tax in Tennessee just a few years ago.
An Associated Press article out today noted the Haslam family’s active role in promoting a state income tax in Tennessee: “Haslam’s father, Pilot Corp. founder Jim Haslam, was a board member of Citizens for Fair Taxes, a group formed in 1999. The group gathered $1.8 million and aired a television advertisement noting that the last time Tennessee’s tax code was overhauled in 1923, the Ford Model T was still on the road. ‘The budget crisis is real,’ the ad said. ‘It’s time to fix it.’”
Nationally syndicated talk show host and finance expert Dave Ramsey also expressed concern today about Bill Haslam’s record of raising taxes and the Haslam family’s push for a state income tax, telling Knoxville’s WNOX radio this morning: “Bill seems to be a little bit more moderate on that stuff. If I remember correctly, I was in the middle of that fight, the Haslam family…came out and said the income tax we needed it. And that scares me because I really don’t want an income tax in Tennessee.”
Such questions have been raised because Bill Haslam has acknowledged the state faces a looming billion-dollar budget deficit. When faced with only a $10 million budget shortfall in Knoxville in 2003, Mayor Haslam immediately raised the property tax rate on working families from $2.70 per $100 of assessed value to $3.05, demonstrating that his first inclination was to raise taxes rather than cut spending when faced with a deficit.
With the state of Tennessee facing a $1 billion shortfall early next year – a deficit 100 times larger than what he faced in Knoxville – Mayor Haslam’s record of raising taxes and his family’s history of political and financial support for a state income tax suggests Haslam could ultimately push for a new state income tax rather than work to right-size state government and reduce overall spending – despite his claims to the contrary.
“The record is clear. Mayor Haslam raised taxes before he cut spending in Knoxville,” said Zach Wamp. “Mayor Haslam’s history and his family’s support for a state income tax should be a huge concern for every working family and small business owner across our state. Because past actions speak much louder than weak campaign promises, I just don’t think Mayor Haslam can be trusted on this issue.”
Wamp noted that Haslam has spent millions of dollars throughout this race disguising his record and pretending to be something he’s not, including claims that he’s against a state income tax.
“One of my biggest fears about Bill Haslam, one that would do more damage than anything else to Tennessee families and the small business community, is the very real chance that he will ultimately support a state income tax when faced with the real-life pressure next year of balancing Tennessee’s budget,” said Wamp. “And nothing could be worse for the future of our state and job creation in our state than Bill Haslam trying to force a new state income tax on us.”