Sen. Raymond Finney and State Representative District 20 candidate Tona Monroe-Ball each signed a pledge recently to not raise taxes or vote to impose a state income tax.
Finney and Monroe-Ball were at Ryan’s Steakhouse June 12 to sign the measure sponsored by Tennessee Tax Revolt.
Finney said that in tough budget years such as this lawmakers often consider raising taxes. “There’s a temptation to raise taxes, especially in a shortfall. Next year will definitely be tight. You don’t raise taxes to make a short term change in the budget,” he said.
Tona Monroe-Ball said signing the measure is extremely important. “Times are very hard. There’s no accountability on spending, budgets are not screened to determine the legitimately constitutional functions of state government. I’m not going to approve budgets that are bloated with things that are not functions of state government,” she said.
Monroe-Ball said the state needs government accountability. “Government spending has been out of control. We need a strong fiscal conservative in state government. We need budget cuts not tax hikes,” she said.
Ben Cunningham, president of Tennessee Tax Revolt, said signing the pledge means the candidate is being held accountable. “It means they’re making a promise to constituents,” he said.
Most who sign with his group approach them for the opportunity to do so. Some candidates reject the opportunity. “They’re saying, ‘I’m reserving the right to vote for tax increases or to institute an income tax.’” Cunningham said.
Monroe-Ball said income tax proponents are preparing to pitch the idea to lawmakers again because of the budget shortfall. “They’re grooming people to accept it. I want to show there’s not a need for an income tax, just a need to trim the state budget,” she said.
Cunningham said the main reason he hears from lawmakers opposed to signing the pledge against raising taxes or starting an income tax is it ties their hands.