Friday, August 09, 2002

Another Thread Unravels

This story hasn't made it to the Commercial Appeal or to the Tennessean, even though talk radio has had it all day. Even a search of the usual Tennessee government websites failed to turn it up and it's their news! I finally found it, courtesy of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Remember, back in the heat of the Income Tax War's last days, the State Finance Commissioner, Dr. Warren Neel, released an odd report. I referenced it, and some comment by Bill Hobbs. It was a "year end" revenue report, minus the last month. It's only purpose was to paint a bad picture of State revenue, showing loss when it wasn't there, by making it appear that a sales tax wasn't able to meet budget needs.

Well, turn outs that Dr. Neel, and his fellow doom-sayers, were wrong. The State collected slightly more than $38 million more than projected! It means that the rainy day fund gets to remain at $143 million and, in a bit of brazeness only our Governor could manage, Sundquist actually bragged about leaving the rainy day fund with more in it than he found eight years ago. Not much more and, in a period when our economy grew at astonishing levels, as did State spending on his watch, a meager $143 million isn't anything to brag about. But he took credit for it.

Reading the story is a bit difficult as the KNS throws a lot of Finance Administration numbers around confusingly. Apparently, that happens when you deal with Dr. Neel. Just ask Senator Curtis Person. Overall tax collections declined by 1.7%. But sales tax collections rose, in a recession, by .26%. So much for the "inelasticity" theory.

I can hardly wait to see how the Commercial Appeal spins this one.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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