It's Time To Move On Roads.

This is a letter to the editor of the Williamson Herald. Click here for the original article.

The Williamson Business PAC has been carefully monitoring the important work being done by the 110th General Assembly the last couple of weeks.  The PAC stands with all Tennesseans as we pride ourselves on the quality of our roads, plus the fiscally conservative approach to “pay as you go” that ensures construction and maintenance are completed without incurring debt. 

However, with a current almost $10 billion back-log of road projects, coupled with unreliable funding from the federal government and a state funding source that has not been addressed for almost 30 years, the PAC believes the time is ripe for Tennessee to attack the problem and ensure the can is not kicked further down the road.

“Sustainable funding sources for roads” have become household words and we suspect much discussion has ensued around the kitchen table due to the fact that “gas tax increase” have accompanied those words. Governor Haslam’s proposed legislation, the IMPROVE Act (Improve Manufacturing, Public Roads & Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy), has taken some twists and turns, but with slight revision has continued on its way through both legislative chambers.

Some of the revisions include decreasing the gasoline and diesel tax increases while increasing the food and Hall tax decreases, reducing the corporate F&E tax and increasing property tax relief for our veterans, elderly and disabled.  A net tax decrease is the current result, versus a projected net neutral state originally proposed.

The PAC has been supportive of these fiscally conservative efforts that spread the use of our roads over the greatest possible population in order to not overburden Tennessee residents.  Before the General Assembly convened this session, we had already met with our full legislative delegation and assured each of them they would have our support as they supported the governor’s plan and navigated the law-making waters.  

Today, the PAC applauds the efforts of Sen. Jack Johnson for his affirmative vote on the Senate State & Local Government Committee and Rep. Sam Whitson for his affirmative votes on both the House Transportation Subcommittee and House Transportation Committee.  We watch with anticipation the continued supportive efforts by Majority Leader Rep. Glen Casada and Rep. Charles Sargent,  who chairs the House Finance Ways & Means Committee, as well as sits on the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee.

Great roads are a key component of economic viability and development.  The PAC thanks the many mayors, businesses and community members that have engaged in this issue.  As we move on to the next steps of the process, the PAC will remain vigilant, stay engaged and stand at the ready to continue to support our Williamson County elected officials as together we solve this very important issue that affects our Tennessee highways and byways and thus our lives each and every day.

Mark Cleveland, Franklin