Tenn. bill would stamp income tax unconstitutional

The sponsor of a measure that would declare an income tax and payroll tax unconstitutional in Tennessee says it’s necessary because of the poor state of the economy. The proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was approved 7-3 in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. The earliest it could go before voters is 2014.

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Even though the state constitution already says an income tax is not allowed in Tennessee, Kelsey said the difficult economic times may prompt lawmakers to try to pass an income tax.

“We’ve got eight members of the Legislature who proposed an income tax this year, so if we don’t address this issue now, then when are we going to address it?” Kelsey asked. [Read the full article]

Tax hike opponents warned Georgia legislators not to raise taxes to balance the state’s budget.

The rally Tuesday was headlined by Grover Norquist, head of the national anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform. About 100 protesters — some wearing tea party T-shirts — gathered on the Capitol steps.

Anti-smoking advocates are pushing for a $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax to help fill a growing budget hole. But Norquist said legislators need to address spending.

He accused elected officials who are proposing tax hikes of failing to govern and make tough decisions.

The event Tuesday drew a number of conservative political candidates for the Legislature and Congress. [Read the full article]

The television station that broadcasts the Idaho Legislature, “Sesame Street” and other shows across the state appears likely to escape budget cuts of the magnitude Gov. C.L. “Butch” demanded when the 2010 session started.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted 19-0 to set Idaho Public Television’s state funding at $1.4 million, down 16 percent from the original spending package for the current fiscal year but less than half the cut proposed by Otter on Jan. 11, when he announced plans to phase out state taxpayer support by 2014.

The Republican governor’s aides originally said government-backed TV had grown superfluous in the era of the Internet, cable and satellite television, but the Republican chief revised his motivations weeks later: The proposed phase-out came after public TV manager Peter Morrill didn’t respond adequately to his demands for austerity starting in September 2009. [Read the full article]

With lawmakers racing to negotiate a budget and tax package, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday it’s possible she’ll need to call a special session to extend the talks beyond Thursday’s deadline for adjournment.

Gregoire said majority Democrats in the House and Senate still have a lot of work to do, and she won’t know until Thursday whether they’ll be close enough to finish before midnight, the scheduled adjournment time.

“What’s more important to me is that they get the job done, and they get it done well,” she said.

The House and Senate have both passed budget proposals and tax packages, but now must reconcile differences while solving a $2.8 billion deficit in the state budget through June 2011.

On Tuesday, the House approved a $680 million tax package that would shrink exemptions, collect more money from smokers and service businesses, and extend sales tax to new types of purchases. [Read the full article]

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