Lynn, Shane dispute stance on IMPROVE Act

Xavier Smith • May 22, 2018 at 7:06 PM

House District 57 Rep. Susan Lynn and her Republican primary opponent Aaron Shane voiced opposing views of the incumbent’s support of Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act and its main component – the gas tax.

Shane said in a release Monday that Lynn claimed she did not support the IMPROVE Act and claimed funding for the State Route 109 project was already approved. He said she now claims the State Route 109 project was funded through the IMPROVE Act.

“She will continue to mislead voters until the election. She knows that she betrayed our district when she voted for the largest tax increase in our state’s history. It does not surprise me that she has a difficult time telling voters the truth. What does surprise me is that she would mislead voters on something so easily disproven. The approval of funding for the expansion of Highway 109 can be seen on official state documents and in local newspapers in going back to 2016. No matter what Mrs. Lynn says, she cannot argue facts,” Shane said.

In response, Lynn disputed Shane’s claims and said he “likes to attack the IMPROVE Act for political expediency,” noting IMPROVE Act documents list State Route 109 improvements.

“I promised voters that I would only support a bill that used the budget surplus to fund our roads, and that is exactly what the IMPROVE Act does. The $500 million budget surplus was used for tax cuts in the general fund. The cuts were designed to offset the gas tax increase by more than double,” Lynn said. “In fact, the impact of the bill is that, over the next 10 years, the IMPROVE Act will save taxpayers more than $1.1 billion in taxes. The average family will save $35 dollars a year in food versus gas taxes, which is clearly not a tax increase.”

But Shane disagreed.

“[Lynn] talks about the 20 percent savings on our food tax, that is only 1 cent. It does not take a math or business degree to understand that when you raise the overhead of the companies, which transport products to stores, they will not eat the additional cost; they will pass that on to us, the consumers,” said Shane, who said Haslam stands to directly benefit from the gas tax increase.

Lynn again refuted Shane’s claims.

“My opponent is well versed in conspiracy theories, but not in facts. Neither the governor nor any fuel station profits from the 4-cent increase in the gas tax. Their theory involves a float between when the tax is collected and when it is due,” Lynn said. “However, there is no float, because the tax on gasoline is due when it enters the state, which means that sellers like Pilot must pay the gas tax when they receive the delivery from the distributor.”

Shane continued his claims the IMPROVE Act cost taxpayers more money than before it was passed.

“Also, included in the tax increase is vehicle registration went up between $5-$20, depending on what type of vehicle you drive, and $100 for electric vehicles. Now, we are paying more in the store, more at the pump and more for registration fees when our state had a $2 billion surplus prior to Mrs. Lynn’s vote,” Shane said.

But Lynn disputed those claims, as well.

“Since Gov. Haslam took office, the General Assembly has cut taxes by $800 million – there have been no tax increases. This figure includes the IMPROVE Act, which is the single largest tax cut in our state’s history, thanks to the wise use of the budget surplus,” Lynn said. “Before the vote, the conservative Americans for Tax Reform scored the IMPROVE Act as a tax cut, because the bill rebalanced various taxes in order to offset the highway fund increases with far greater tax cuts,” Lynn said.

Lynn and Shane will face off in the Aug. 2 Republican primary for the District 46 House seat, and the winner will face Democrat challenger Jordan Cole, who is unopposed in the primary, in the Nov. 6 state General Election.

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