Tennessee Democrats: Take Money From Sales Tax And Put It Into Mass Transit

Feb 13, 2017

As Governor Bill Haslam traverses the state promoting his transportation plan, Tennessee Democrats have released an alternative proposal to pay for roads.

It calls for taking some of the state's surging sales tax revenue and putting it into mass transit.

The Democrats' plan would create a set of regional transportation districts — Nashville and its suburbs, for instance.

Each district would get a lump of money any time Tennessee manages to bring in more sales tax revenue than state budgeters have projected.

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, says it's a way to help cities handle the economic activity they create.

"The areas that … are experiencing the biggest growth, have the biggest need," he says. "So it's essentially creating a cycle."

The Democrats also call for raising Tennessee's gas tax by five cents a gallon. That's two cents less than Governor Bill Haslam's plan. The gas tax money would go into road construction.

The proposal, HB 1243, has little chance of passing in the Republican-dominated state legislature. But Democrats say they'll consider it a victory if elements of their plan make it into the final road-funding measure.