Letters to the editor:
Best of Knoxville Caper: Bad
The yearly poll result issue [vol. 10, No. 17] is usually one of my favorites, but somebody laid a serious egg here. By the second page I could not have cared less who won what. The idea was pretty weak.
Gripe number two: When I turned to check out the only two categories I remained interested in, I found descriptions of the Electric Ballroom and the Carousel which suggest that they are inhabited solely by drag queens. While two or three may flit around on any given night, the weekend nights are dominated by large crowds of young, fairly attractive gay men and women who would look more comfortable running the cash register at Abercrombie and Fitch than sharing cosmopolitans with Ru Paul. I respect the entertainers but am discouraged by this off-the-cuff, casual attempt to further marginalize the gay community.
Best of Knoxville Caper: Good
Once again the Metro Pulse has proved itself worthy of publication. I must sing the praises of the storyline format of the Best of Knoxville. Note carefully the subtle refrain from the chorus in the background continually emphasizing the artistic and writing brilliance of one John Mayer. His take on the storyline is witty, insightful and a refreshing chunk of Truth all at once. John Mayer should be a regular contributor to the Pulse. I have noted his letters to the editor in the past and I am pleased to tears that he illustrated and narrated for this issue. Keep finding the gems of Knoxville. The sad part is that the 12 men and their ashen leader can't appreciate the biting sarcasm due to their very nature.
Although the public and courts have long opposed a state income tax, Governor Sundquist still submitted next year's budget which includes a state income tax. I suspect several high-ranking members of the political leadership and special-interest groups made some illicit deal with Governor Sundquist to support an income tax and take a lot of the political heat since he doesn't have to face the voters. Since the central argument for a state income tax is due to "inadequate" revenues, I figured it was time to get some facts on the issue. I obtained financial information from the Department of Finance and Administration Budget Office in Nashville. The information I received provided for some very interesting reading.
The actual revenue collected for fiscal year 1994-1995 was $6,297,472,100 which is about a 6 percent increase over 1993-1994 amount of $5,938,158,100. The actual revenue collected for 1995-1996 was $6,570,047,300 which is about a 4.3 percent increase over the 1994-1995 amount. The actual revenue collected for 1996-1997 was $6,933,501,400 which is about a 5.5 percent increase over the 1995-1996 amount. The actual revenue collected for 1997-1998 was $7,346,687,300 which is about a 5.9 percent increase over the 1996-1997 amount. The average increase between those fiscal years is about 5.4 percent.
If the average increase is 5.4 percent, then why has the Finance and Administration Department estimated the revenue for the fiscal year 1998-1999 to be $7,555,600,000 which is only a 2.8 percent increase over the 1997-1998 amount or the $7,744,200,000 estimate for 1999-2000 which is only about a 2.5 percent increase over the 1998-1999 amount? I suspect that the deliberate underestimation of revenue was done to produce deficits for the purpose of supporting plans for additional revenue sources such as a state income tax. Given certain facts such as the state now just finally getting around to its annual reverification of the massive TennCare program after failing to do it for the past five years, the focus should be on government spending, not on new taxes.
Moreover, if the 1998-1999 fiscal year increased at the average of 5.4 percent over 1997-1998, the amount would be $7,743,408,414. If this amount also increased at the average of 5.4 percent for fiscal year 1999-2000, the amount would be $8,161,552,469 which is $417,352,469 more than the amount calculated by using artificially low percentage rates of increase and certainly enough to cover the $382,000,000 "deficit" that Governor Sundquist and others have predicted. In a nutshell: Considering that the state budget must be balanced each year and the revenues received increase from year to year, the real issue is spending priorities and not if there will be a budget deficit.