Governor Haslam unveiled the details surrounding one of the most critical elements of his 2017 budget proposal: transportation and infrastructure improvements combined with tax cuts to promote the business and manufacturing communities in Tennessee. Called the IMPROVE Act, the proposal modernizes the way our transportation infrastructure and roads are funded in Tennessee and offers a meaningful package of tax cuts financed by this year’s substantial tax surplus, primarily from growth in business tax revenues. This is a major win for the Tennessee Chamber and the many of you who have worked so diligently on both  of these measures with Governor Haslam, his staff, and legislators. We applaud Governor Haslam for including them in his proposed 2017 budget and remain confident that it will enhance Tennessee’s ability to grow, expand, and recruit businesses. Now, the work begins to ensure the IMPROVE Act becomes law. We urgently encourage you to engage with your state legislators, particularly in the coming weeks before the legislature returns on January 30th to begin their regular business.

Although Tennessee boasts one of the lowest fuel tax burdens in the nation, there is some concern amongst members of the legislature about the political maneuverings of certain groups committed to opposing any kind of road funding increase, even at the expense of this larger growth-friendly proposal. It is vital that the business community speak out on this topic and reaffirm our steadfast support for the ta relief and infrastructure enhancements in the IMPROVE Act. Your engagement on both of  these issues is crucially important as the Tennessee Chamber ramps up our statewide grassroots efforts this year to engage local chambers of commerce, business leaders, and economic development agencies across our great state.

As details continue to develop, we will keep you informed and hope that you will weigh in with your elected officials on the importance of keeping our state economically competitive, both in our  tax climate and in the strength of our transportation infrastructure.

Over the years, we have accomplished significant legislative victories thanks to the support of you, our statewide business leaders. Thank you for your partnership and for your tireless efforts to advance and protect the interests of Tennessee’s growing economy. To assist you as you reach out to your respective legislative delegations, we have included a series of talking points on the IMPROVE Act below. We hope you find them helpful.

To read Governor Haslam’s proposal click here.

To read the transportation plan summary click here.

Look at the gas/diesel revenue by city and county here.

Take a look at the transportation projects summary here.

The list of 962 transportation projects can be found here.

Talking Points:

  • Improving Tennessee’s business climate is crucially important.  Our businesses and employers drive economic growth and the tax collections that fund investments in our education system and other important areas of state government.
  • Rising transportation construction costs and more fuel efficient vehicles have resulted in a six billion-dollar backlog of transportation projects across Tennessee. Tennessee currently ranks lowest in gas tax and diesel tax collections, and the gas tax has not been increased since 1989.  Modernizing our transportation funding to properly invest in our future growth is the right thing to do.
  • Tennessee business have noted their support of fuel tax increases to ensure our state’s transportation infrastructure gives businesses adequate capacity for mobility and allows us to compete with our neighboring states for economic development.
  • A number of other states have enacted tax changes that promote manufacturing, and Tennessee must likewise remain competitive.  Manufacturing propels much of our economic growth, especially in rural areas.  Economists estimate that for each dollar a manufacturer generates it results in $1.80 cents in ripple effect.  This multiplier is much larger than other industries.