Press releases from the Office of State Senator Roy Herron; April 30, 2012:
DRESDEN – State Senator Roy Herron fought on the Senate floor to slash the sales tax on food, a move that would have benefited all Tennesseans, especially working families. Herron offered amendments to abolish or greatly reduce the sales tax on groceries.
“We had an opportunity to help all Tennesseans save a lot of money on the food they put on their families’ tables,” Herron said. “I’m sorry the legislature missed this opportunity to help working and retired Tennesseans.”
Herron offered three options to lawmakers to cut the sales tax on food: eliminate it completely, slice it in half, or cut it to 5 percent. Republicans defeated each amendment.
Instead, the Senate approved a mere one-fourth of one percent food tax cut, meaning Tennesseans will save only one quarter (25 cents) per every $100 spent on groceries.
“Every Tennessean should have benefited from tax reductions making groceries more affordable,” Herron said.
DRESDEN – State Senator Roy Herron fought Friday on the Senate floor for 22,000 scholarships for Tennesseans who otherwise cannot afford to go to college.
“At a time when the majority of new jobs in Tennessee will require a college degree, we must invest in our students who need help the most,” Herron said. “We cannot afford to lag behind the rest of the nation and too much of the rest of the world when it comes to educating our students for new jobs.”
Tennessee ranks 50th in funding education among the states and the District of Columbia. While 30 percent of Americans have a college degree, only 22 percent of Tennesseans do. The state has one of the lowest percentages of college graduates in the nation. Governor Bill Haslam has said that more than 40 of Tennessee’s 95 counties have less than 10 percent of their population with a college degree.
Herron’s proposal took the form of an amendment to lower but not totally eliminate the inheritance tax for the heirs and heiresses of estates over $5 million. The amendment would have used the remaining revenues for 22,000 need-based scholarships.
“Those 22,000 students a year could be Tennessee’s future job creators,” Herron said. “They would create more jobs than the heirs and heiresses of the 25 to 30 estates each year larger than $5 million.”
Instead, the Senate voted to eliminate the inheritance tax completely, even on estates over $5 million.
During the debate, Herron cited Thursday’s front-page Wall Street Journal story with the headline, “Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.” The article stated that 14 countries had leapfrogged the United States with a higher percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees.
Also during the debate, Herron quoted the Sermon on the Mount and the verse in the sixth chapter of Matthew that warns that “no one can serve both God and mammon.”
“We cannot serve working families and also give unlimited tax holidays to the mega-rich,” Herron said. “We chose the heirs and heiresses of 25 estates over 22,000 young people who need to go to college.”