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Burchett tackles Chamber quizzing


Tennessee State Sen. Tim Burchett regaled an audience of more than 80 with news from Nashville and his plans for Knox County at Fox Den Country Club, Tuesday, July 21.

Burchett was featured speaker for a Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce Speaker Series Breakfast and spoke on the $30 billion state budget and his decision to run for Knox County mayor.

Burchett said he was often asked why he would make a good mayor, a question he answered throughout the morning.

In legislature, Burchett said, he had learned to “work both sides of the aisle … we have common values, common ideas and ideals.”

“There is no reason people with common ideals can’t get together and have good government,” he added.


Burchett also spoke of fiscal conservation, an idea that seemed at odds with federal government stimulus funding.

“In two years, when all this federal stimulus money runs out … us local people, we’re the ones who have to figure out how to pay for it later,” Burchett said.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche asked Burchett if Tennessee was required to have a balanced budget, a question Burchett answered in the affirmative.

A balanced state budget is constitutionally mandated, he said.

Lou LaMarche then asked about the discussion in state legislature this year about a state income tax.

Burchett said a state income tax had been upheld as unconstitutional on numerous occasions, but warned event attendees to expect “major cuts or major taxes” in coming years.

“Tennessee is a sales tax state,” he said.

Candy Olandt, Natural Alternatives Salon and Spa, asked Burchett about unemployment insurance, which was increased recently.

“Five of us opposed that,” Burchett said, explaining unemployment insurance is a federally mandated program, and the state legislature was given two options: increase rates to business owners or accept a loan from Washington.

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, also owner of Matlock Tire Co., stood in the audience and explained he had voted for the rate increase. “It was the lesser of two evils,” he said.

The strings attached to the federal loan were unreasonable, he added.

Finally, Michael Bailey of Bailey Insurance asked Burchett what people could do to keep government from interfering in their personal lives.

Burchett emphasized staying educated on issues: “right now, we’re just not paying attention … we need to get more organized as citizens, we need to get involved.”

“There is an arrogance associated with elected office. … We put our legislators and elected officers on a pedestal. You pay our salaries … people need to tell [elected officials] what they think,” Burchett said.

“The government sure as heck doesn’t need to step into private business any more than they do. ... It’s your money and you can decide what to do with it,” he added.

“Tim would be a very competent mayor and he now has the experience and capabilities to run County government,” Farragut Municipal Planning Commissioner Ed Whiting said.

“I think he’s got the right value system, and I think he is a fiscal conservative,” Mayor Ralph McGill said. ... “Lord knows we need fiscal conservatism in government.”

 

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