The “Greenest State in the Land of the Free” is AT RISK!

This seems like a complicated matter, this “restoration of the Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Funds” that we keep talking about, but it’s really quite simple. Let me break it down for you:

In 1991 the TN State Legislature and then-governor Ned Ray McWherter wisely passed a bill that set aside a SMALL portion of the real estate transfer fees for land conservation. This makes sense: As real estate is developed and new residents move to Tennessee, a small portion of their transfer tax is reinvested in the state. Over the years, the transfer funds have set aside approximately $20 million per year — money that has successfully purchased, improved and conserved areas in Tennessee. (See our “FUNDS” page for a PDF of everything the money has accomplished.)

In 2003, however, with the State’s budget an economic mess, Governor Bredesen pulled these funds for their intended purpose and re-appropriated them to Tennessee’s General Fund. In 2008 these funds were set to automatically return to their original purpose. The Governor put them in the budget, back where they belong and NOT as a part of the General Fund. At the last minute, however, the Legislature ONCE AGAIN “pulled” the funding from its original intent and used the dollars to balance the budget.

So now here we are. 2010. Once again, the Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Funds are set to be returned to land conservation. The Governor tells us that he intents to restore them “in full or in part” to their original purpose. But until the 2010 Budget is signed and finalized, we WILL NOT REST. Tennessee is at a crossroads. We MUST make our beautiful state — its clean waters, abundant wildlife, prolific farmland, and urban and wild parks — our priority. Please write your State Representative and State Senator. Let them know this is important. For us. For our kids. For THEIR kids. Forever. We want to “Forever Green” our beautiful Tennessee. Please help. Tell everyone you know.

These are DEDICATED funds that have been TAKEN from their purpose. This is NOT a “new tax.” This is not a push for MORE money to be taken out of your pockets. This is money that ALREADY EXISTS in the state budget, but it’s not being spent how it’s supposed to be spent.

Think about it this way: There is a gas tax on every gallon of gas you buy at the pump. This “dedicated” tax is to improve roads. What if the Governor/Finance Committee/State Legislature decided that they needed they extra money to balance the budget? To avoid job cutting? To improve schools? Let’s say they took those billions of dollars that are set aside to maintain and improve roads and did something else with the money. What would our roads look like? How would you feel driving down the highway/Interstate/main thoroughfare that was riddled with potholes and damaged your car? I bet you’d want that money back to fix what was supposed to be fixed with that money.

That’s how we feel. We had money to improve and maintain our beautiful state. That money was taken from us. We want it back. Our air is being damaged due to lack of trees to filter it. Our waters are more and more polluted because of industry and development. Our wildlife is having to live on less and less acreage. This list goes on and on and on.

We desperately hope this makes sense to you. It makes sense to us. It makes a better, more beautiful Tennessee for all of us.

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