UT Political Scientist: ‘No-Tax’ Pledges Risky

KNOXVILLE – Two leading candidates for Tennessee governor have said they would work to repeal any state tax increase if they get elected.

University of Tennessee political science professor Bill Lyons said that pledge might make it difficult for the eventual winner.

“Republican Van Hilleary and Democrat Phil Bredesen may be boxing themselves in,” Lyons said, “by saying they will definitely do a certain thing when elected. The last thing a governor wants to do is find his or her options extremely limited prior to taking office.”

Hilleary and Bredesen publicly oppose the creation of a state income tax, and each has said if they are elected and an income tax is approved, they would try to get the action reversed.

Lyons said this reflects the major themes of each candidate’s fall campaign, assuming they survive primary-election challenges this summer.

“Clearly, there’s already the structuring of the November campaign taking place,” Lyons said, “and that is a race to see who would be the most opposed to an income tax. I don’t think that would be a campaign that would do Tennessee a whole lot of good.”

Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh is trying to build support for an income tax plan that would levy a 4.5 percent flat tax rate on income, and remove sales taxes on things like food, non-prescription drugs and clothing.

The primary election for governor will be in August and the general election will be in November.