Pody Supports Cut in Sales Tax on Food and Ending Funds for NPR

December 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Pody

State Representative Mark Pody said he supports Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to cut the state sales tax on grocery food by another quarter-cent.

Pody also wants to end state funding for National Public Radio (NPR).

The governor said last week that he will ask legislators next month to cut the sales tax on food from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.

"He wants to bring it down to 5 percent. Right now its at 5.25 percent," said Representative Pody in an interview with WJLE Friday. "We did reduce it a little bit last year and I believe he's got it in the budget where we can afford to do that (reduce the sales tax by another quarter percent). I think that will be a good move. It will help everybody across Tennessee equally," said Pody.

If lawmakers pass the reduction, it would mark the second year in a row that they have reduced the sales tax rate by a quarter of a cent. Cities and counties in Tennessee, like DeKalb County, add up to 2.75 percent more in local sales taxes, which are not affected by the state cut.

Haslam said he will propose, in the state budget he will present to lawmakers by early February, the second consecutive cut in the food tax. But he said he has no plans to cut it further in future years.

"In general, the debate from a lot of folks is about what tax can we cut next," said Governor Haslam in a Memphis Commercial Appeal report. "We've cut the Hall (the state's limited personal income tax on investment income), eliminated the gift tax, are phasing out the inheritance tax and are cutting the food tax by 10 percent of the total (state) tax. That's nothing to sneeze at," he said.

"But ... we've got to balance the revenue and expense side. I'm always amazed how many people want us to cut taxes but they don't want us to cut any programs," said Governor Haslam.

Representative Pody said the state has sufficient funds to cover the costs in cutting the sales tax on food but beyond that he would like to see the state cut funding to NPR. "Right now we have almost an extra $500 million that has come in above and beyond what we have budgeted. This would be more than enough to make up for that (sales tax cut). Some of that cost is already going to be going to TennCare costs and other increases that we have, but there would be enough to do it," said Pody.

"There are more cuts I believe we can make in the budget. In fact one of them is NPR. I don't believe that any organization should be competing with other private organizations. I don't think the government should be in the mode of picking and choosing who they are going to help, if they're not going to help everybody equally. That's one place I'd say we should be cutting," said Pody.

What about public television? "There are so many stations out there right now, that the public has a choice of where they want to go," said Pody. "We don't need to be picking up that kind of costs. If the public wants it, they can make their donations on their own. They can publicly pay for it with their own private funds and it can still be a viable option as an independent business. It does not have to be run or funded by the government," said Representative Pody.

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