JobsÂ are, hands down, the most important thing on the minds of Tennesseans as we approach the upcoming election.
Weâ€™ve watched the federal government fail time and time again as they have attempted to meddle in the economy. In the Tennessee General Assembly, we understood thisÂ would not work. Our approach is a proven path to prosperity.
FromÂ 2003 toÂ 2010, we saw unemployment rates go from around 5.3 percent all the way up to 9.5 percent. The politicianÂ in the Tennessee HouseÂ who oversaw theseÂ undesirableÂ statisticsÂ is running forÂ the Tennessee HouseÂ for a sixthÂ time.
TennesseansÂ know where jobs originate. It isÂ writtenÂ onÂ our Tennessee State Seal:Â â€œAgriculture and Commerce.â€ Agriculture andÂ commerce expand and create jobs where and when owners and managers find aÂ favorable business climate.Â I understand this, and that is why we worked this year to take job-killingÂ lawsÂ andÂ taxes off the books so weÂ create a favorable business climate and foster job growth.
The 2012-2013 state budgetÂ begins to phaseÂ out the “death tax,” which will be completely eliminated in 2016.Â AsÂ parentsÂ pass the familyÂ farm,Â theÂ smallÂ business, andÂ the familyÂ homeÂ down to theirÂ kids, TennesseeÂ will no longer levyÂ theÂ deathÂ tax on those individuals.Â With the elimination of the death tax, families are not taxed aÂ secondÂ timeÂ on these assets.
Going hand-in-hand with death tax elimination is the complete elimination of the gift tax this yearâ€”a $14.9 million tax cut. Many families were affected by this tax in the same way they were harmed by the death tax: transferring land, for instance, was also subject to the gift tax.Â Now, the fruits of this labor can transfer to the next generation without paying a hefty tax and protect what are often family treasures.
The General Assembly also reduced the foodÂ tax this year.Â This creates savings of $22 million for all Tennesseans. As food and gas prices continue to increase, the food tax cut will put money back in the pockets of hard-working Tennesseans.Â The goal is to further roll back this tax in the coming years soÂ that all Tennessee families will experienceÂ even more savings.
We cut 2 percentÂ from the overall state budget, and balanced itâ€”something Congress has been unable to doÂ for, arguably, more than a decade.Â We haveÂ put $72.4Â million in the state’s rainy-day fundÂ over theÂ pastÂ two years.Â Setting aside savingsÂ for the futureÂ is just common senseÂ and will protect our stateÂ duringÂ lean years from job-crushingÂ taxÂ increases.
The budget saves an additional $200 millionÂ for the potential cost ofÂ ObamacareÂ and due to future global economic uncertainty. Lawmakers successfully fought off several attempts to spend the extra revenue on projects, stressing the need to be prudent in budgeting for the future.
Legislation was passedÂ toÂ reform lawsuit abuse, which will drive down the cost of healthcare and attract medical professionals to Tennessee.
Additionally, those individuals who bring â€œfrivolousâ€ lawsuits now face the prospect of having to pay everybodyâ€™s legal expenses if a judge rules there is â€œno basis in fact or lawâ€ for their suit.Â This common-sense legislation will make our state far moreÂ jobs-friendly.
The last two years were extremely successful, with the real winners being the taxpayersâ€”and rightfully so. Tennesseans deserve nothing less. They work hard to provide for their families, save their hard-earned money, and give their children hope for the future. State government should not stand in the way, but instead act on their behalf as we make this state the No. 1 destination in the country for jobsÂ andÂ the businesses that create them. I will continue to work with our state leaders to ensure your values and your pocketbook are protected.
WeÂ all know that Washington, D.C., is broken, but Tennessee works. We do things differentlyÂ here; we do things correctly. Balanced budgets, job friendly legislation,Â andÂ tax cutsÂ forÂ allÂ TennesseeÂ families, when was the last time Washington could say that?
Rep. John Ragan represents Tennessee’s 33rd District, which includes most of Anderson County, in the General Assembly’s House of Representatives.