By KEVIN BOWDEN
The final week of this year’s legislative session was just a little too much for State Rep. Bill Sanderson. The Kenton Republican made it home around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after a marathon last week of the 107th General Assembly and he just collapsed from exhaustion.
He told The Messenger he was feeling a little better Thursday afternoon and would be fully recovered in time for a pair of appearances he had scheduled for last night.
“I just got worn down,” Sanderson said. “It was hard.”
He explained the last two weeks of the legislative session involved numerous and lengthy committee meetings and House sessions in order to adjourn the state Legislature early this year. The hectic pace of the political process caught up with Sanderson on the final day and he said he got home exhausted Tuesday night.
“I just felt so tired on Wednesday morning I could just hardly get going,” Sanderson said.
Looking back on this past legislative session, Sanderson said he was “very pleased” with the legislation that was approved.
“We really trimmed it (the budget) up,” he said. “I’m very proud of the legislation that we passed this year. I think we’re headed in the right direction,”
Sanderson explained the state should be in much better shape next year, and with the work that was done this past session, legislators should be able to restore some of the programs and funding to the 2013-14 budget that were cut out of the state’s 2012-13 budget.
The state House of Representatives approved a $31.5 billion 2012-13 state budget that is 2 percent smaller than the state’s current budget. The new spending plan projects sending $50 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund while also including three significant state tax cuts.
The new state budget includes a phase-out of the state death tax, the elimination of the state’s gift tax and a reduction in the food tax from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent.
“I proudly voted for the budget this year,” Sanderson said. “While the stalemate in Washington has yet to produce one, Tennessee’s leaders came together to craft a balanced budget that slashes spending by 2 percent while still providing millions in tax relief to all Tennesseans. This fiscally responsible plan will return tax dollars to their rightful owners and improve the economic outlook for Tennessee.”
A fiscally responsible, and balanced, state budget that includes tax cuts is an achievement Sanderson said he is very proud of when he looks back at his work these past few months on Capitol Hill.
Repealing the state’s death tax represents a $94.6 million tax cut, according to the Capitol Hill Wrap newsletter.
“Republicans argued the death tax breaks up family farms and small businesses, forcing families to make difficult decisions at what is often the most difficult time in their lives, the passing of a loved one,” the newsletter states. “In many cases, families are faced with selling off parts of farms and land or closing a small, family-owned business in order to pay the tax bill. With the elimination of the harmful tax, Tennesseans will benefit and prosper.”
The food tax cut is estimated to save Tennesseans $22 million and the elimination of the state’s gift tax represents another $14.9 million tax cut.
Sanderson said he supports Gov. Bill Haslam and legislative leaders in their pledge to continue reductions to the state’s food tax.
Another highlight of the 2012-13 budget is its commitment to education funding, TennCare and several important crime initiatives, according to Sanderson. The state’s Basic Education Program was fully funded at $5.3 billion and higher education funding was increased to $3.8 billion in the new budget.
Sanderson said he supports a Public Safety Plan introduced by Gov. Haslam earlier this year. Under the governor’s plan, violent crimes are targeted and the new state budget fully funds measures dealing with gang violence, prescription drug abuse, repeat domestic violence offenders and synthetic drugs.
“We even passed a bill that will allow a coach to bow his head with his team after a game,” Sanderson said as he made reference to restoring rights to Tennesseans.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.04.12