Saturday, 11 January 2003

My letter to the Commercial Appeal

On Friday, January 10, the Department of Finance and Administration reported a press release in which it stated that “December revenues were $33.8 million more than the budgeted estimates.” In other words, the state is running a budget surplus, largely due to the sales tax increase approved by the legislature in 2002.

Imagine my surprise the next day when the Commercial Appeal failed to even mention this good news. Of the state's three major newspapers, only the Nashville Tennessean bothered to let the state's taxpayers know that the state's budget crisis is essentially over. Instead, we have been treated to a long line of stories saying that retail sales are down (even though they are, in fact, higher than last year's) and that the state faces massive budget problems (mostly due to spending on the bloated TennCare program and court orders to equalize education funding in rural districts).

I guess printing good news would detract from your paper's mission to impose an income tax with no spending limits similar to California's (a state facing a $36 billion budget shortfall over the next 18 months). Your readers deserve an honest reporting of the facts, not suppression of information to further a political agenda.

For more details on this story, see Bill Hobbs' weblog. We'll see if they print my letter; I'm not holding my breath.