Haslam visits Sumner County to discuss IMPROVE Act

(Photo: WKRN)

SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Haslam is visiting Sumner County Wednesday night to discuss his IMPROVE Act.

Gallatin is one of several mid-state communities the governor has visited in recent weeks to tout the plan that impacts everyone that drives in Tennessee.

Butch Spyridon, with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, is one of many leaders that support the bill.

“We have an infrastructure need and there comes a time when you do have to pay for things,” Spyridon told News 2.

As Tennessee continues to thrive, he says transportation is key.

“Anybody that has gone out on any given day has experienced traffic at an exponential growth,” Spyridon said.

The IMPROVE Act includes a 7-cent a gallon increase in the state’s gas tax and 12-cents a gallon on diesel, while reducing a series of state taxes including those on groceries.

It’s been more than two decades since the state has had a gas tax increase.

Spyridon says it’s time to catch back up

“We are at a critical point. We have been on a tremendous run in terms of growth, prosperity, job creation, business relocation, visitation you name it,” he said.

Spyridon told News 2 tourism is at the top of its game, pulling in 30 percent of the state’s visitor spending.

“Hospitality industry, $6 billion in spending in Davidson County, our visitors need to get around and they’ll also be paying for a fair amount of that gas tax too,” Spyridon explained.

He says if we don’t stay ahead of the curve, we could lose business.

“We will have a whole nother set of issues that we don’t really want to deal with; unemployment, deterioration. Getting people around and taking care of our existing roads are two things that we have got to deal with or the prosperity will be gone.”

Lawmakers were set to discuss the governor’s plan Wednesday, but it has been delayed to next week.