Speaker Williams Doubts Cable Tax Bump Will Pass

With a recession on and an election coming up, House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton, said during a press conference in his office Thursday he doubts lawmakers will want to pass a cable tax increase — or for that matter most any other significant tax- or fee-hike this year.

Gov. Phil Bredesen’s FY2010-2011 budget proposes bumping taxes on cable television consumers to raise an estimated $49.8 million.

Bredesen’s $28.41 billion budget proposal released this earlier this week includes about $70 million in hikes and new taxes.

Williams did say he supports raising the cost of obtaining a Tennessee driver’s license from $19.50 for five years to $46 for eight years. He’s also said he supports giving state employees bonuses this year that will cost an estimated $164.7 million.

Bredesen said in his State of the State speech Monday that without the increase “85 filled trooper positions and 56 filled positions in the driver’s license stations” would have to be eliminated.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, also voiced opposition to the tax on Thursday.

“Increasing the cable bill is not the way to balance our budget,” he said.

The governor also said he wants to give all full-time state employees a 3 percent bonuses in order to “recognize their dedication.”