Party agendas greatly differ as state lawmakers begin session

(Graphic: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – What’s important to Tennesseans depends on which party you talk to as state lawmakers begin their legislative session.

Republicans who control super majorities of more than two-thirds in each chamber see things much differently than their Democrat counterparts.

“We are going to cut taxes, and make this the most free state to raise your family, conduct business and create wealth,” declared House Republican Caucus chair Glen Casada on the eve of lawmakers coming back to work.

The House leader from Williamson County listed the state sales tax on groceries, the 6 percent Hall Income Tax on dividends, and the estate or “death” tax as areas where he’d like to see more decreases.

Rep. Casada said there will be much discussion about raising the state’s gas tax which hasn’t been increased in decades to cover the risings costs of road building and maintenance.

“Obviously inflation is outpacing the revenue that we are collecting on building roads, so there is a solution, but I don’t think raising the gas tax is it.” Casada told News 2.

Seeing the main issues much differently is Casada’s counterpart in the House, Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.

“I think what we hear from Republicans are none of the issues facing the state,” Rep. Stewart told News 2. “Passing Insure TN–a plan to bring health care for free to hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans, passing our legislation on minimum wage, passing legislation on equal pay for equal work is what we are working for.”

Both agree there may be battles over using pre-K funds for teacher salaries, how much money to put in the state’s “rainy-day fund, and a wide range of gun bills.

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