Press release from the Vote No on 3 Campaign; November 3, 2014:
Voter concerns over double-digit sales tax and chronic budget shortfalls chill support for Amendment 3
NASHVILLE — MTSU released a new poll showing only 30% of likely voters are backing Amendment 3. While this is a statistical tie with those who oppose Amendment 3, it is far short of the threshold for passage just days before the election.
This is not surprising to Dick Williams, Chair of the Vote No on 3 campaign. “The voters we talk to understand that Amendment 3 will just lead to a double-digit sales tax on food and other basic needs, property tax hikes, and damaging cuts to education and other important public investments.”
Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at MTSU stated in the poll’s press release, “In order to pass, the amendment will have to receive a number of votes equal to a majority of however many votes are cast in the race for governor. In our sample, 166 likely voters said they supported the amendment, while 416 planned to cast a vote in the race for governor. That comes to only about 40 percent. So, Amendment 3 appears to have some ground to cover among all of those voters who are still undecided about it.”
Amendment 3 is the constitutional amendment that would, on its surface, prohibit creation of a state income tax, but as the Vote No on 3 campaign points out, it will drive up other taxes in the process. “Tennessee already has the highest average sales tax in the nation,” adds Williams, “to raise the sales tax even higher will push us into the double-digit stratosphere, and that is likely driving many voters away from supporting Amendment 3.”
Local business leaders are concerned. “By limiting our options, we will be forced to rely on forms of taxation such as our sales and property taxes which hurt both consumers and business owners,” says John Noel, local real estate investor. “If Amendment 3 passes, that sales tax will go even higher with devastating impact on locally-owned businesses and jobs.”
Rev. Dr. Marvin Mercer, Sr., President of Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention raises other concerns about the impact of Amendment 3 on families, “The double-digit sales tax on food and other basic needs will place a heavy load on the backs of working families and future generations. It will make it harder for working families to put food on the table, clothing on their backs, and provide for their families most basic needs.”
Local property taxes could also go up as cities and counties scramble to make up for state shortfalls and cuts. “Sales tax hikes on food and other basic needs, property tax hikes, and chronic shortfalls are all real consequences of Amendment 3’s passage,” adds Williams. “It’s no wonder the voters we talk to are expressing the same skepticism of Amendment 3 as those in the MTSU poll.”
Jobs are at stake as well, according to the Vote No on 3 campaign. At 7.4%, Tennessee’s unemployment rate is higher than six of our eight neighboring states, all of which have an income tax, a fact that flies in the face of Amendment 3’s supporters. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the quality of education, local infrastructure, and access to resources are keys to attracting businesses and jobs, but these will be at risk if Amendment 3 were to become law.
“Tennessee is in competition for talent with many other states. The quality of schools and colleges, libraries and arts, parks and forests, transportation networks, security provided by police and courts, and health services are important. Tennessee must have a capable and fair tax system to sustain attractive public services to retain its vitality,” adds Malcolm Getz, Economist at Vanderbilt University.
“Voting no on Amendment 3 just keeps all options on the table so we can have a democratic debate about how best to solve our state’s problems when they arise. Voting yes on 3 however locks Tennessee into a future of sales tax hikes, property tax hikes, and damaging cuts,” adds Williams. “With so much collateral damage in it’s wake, it’s frankly not that surprising that Amendment 3 is struggling to get the public support necessary to pass.”
The Vote No on 3 campaign is led by Citizens for Fiscal Sanity, the single-measure committee registered with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. Vote No on 3 is online at www.VoteNo3.org.