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Tennessee budget to cut education spending but allow corporate breaks

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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the state’s plan to cut teacher pay raises for the 2014-2015 school year due to “budget constraints,” according to WATE 6 News Reporter Alexis Zotos. After this announcement yesterday, disappointed educators and supporters of education across the state are furious. Tennessee Education Association President and Sevier County math teacher, Gera Summerford responded to this news stating, “Tennessee educators are deeply committed to providing a quality education for all students, but at the end of the day they should also be able to provide for their own families.”

Summerford noted that the Tennessee budget constraints referred to by Haslam are due in large part to the state officials’ implicit goal of providing breaks to big businesses.

“The main cause of the budget deficit is a drop in the corporate excise tax,” explained Summerford. According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the excise tax is “a privelege tax imposed on each corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company and business trust chartered/organized in Tennessee or doing business in this state,” and the current excise tax on these businesses is 6.5% of Tennessee taxable income.

Summerford continued, “TEA requested information in December on corporations in Tennessee that pay little or no corporate excise tax, but we have yet to receive a response from the state. There is no excuse for our students and teachers being the ones to suffer because the state is not sufficiently taxing big corporations.” She also noted that Haslam has pointed out that businesses have found “loopholes they can exploit” here in Tennessee to avoid paying these taxes.

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