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Hoppe thanks legislators and supporters, says tax reform still needed

July 30, 2002

On July 17, a guest commentary written by Dr. Sherry Hoppe, president of Austin Peay, was published in "The Leaf Chronicle." Below is the content of that column:

The bullets have been dodged, but the gun may be reloaded before the smoke clears.

First, the good news. Austin Peay will be in better financial shape next year than in 2001-2002. Despite the failure of tax reform, the appropriation bill passed by the state legislature resulted in an additional $693,100 for our institution. For that we are very appreciative.

Unfortunately, no one predicts that the increases in taxes approved by the state legislature will keep Tennessee fiscally sound for very long. Internet sales, border state sales and other threats loom on the horizon. Tax reform will need to be addressed within a few short years at the maximum.

Why did tax reform not occur this year after such a long struggle? Perhaps because those who would benefit the most from reform were mislead by anti-tax-reform proponents. Obviously, some just don't believe Tennessee has a revenue problem. For some, spending is the problem, and thus cuts are the answer.

Most people-legislators and public alike-are tired of hearing about tax reform. But the record will be replayed again and again until a permanent solution is found. I commend State Representatives Tommy Head and Kim McMillan for taking a difficult stand in the past legislative session. Their efforts were not only on behalf of all Tennessee but also on behalf of Austin Peay. They also went to the mat for us on the THEC proposals. Rep. Head was especially active in trying to achieve reasonable compromises. Without that, Austin Peay's landscape would be vastly different in the future.

Thanks also to the many Austin Peay supporters who joined our legislators in speaking out against the THEC proposals. Gene Washer, Ben Kimbrough, Christa Holleman, Billy Atkins, Billy Joe Jeans, Cecil Morgan, Linda Rudolph, numerous other President's Circle of Advisers members and a host of Govs Club members spent a lot of time advocating for changes in the proposals. On the commission, our three Constitutional officers, Austin Peay alumni Riley Darnell, Steve Adams and John Morgan, were positive forces for compromise. As a result, Austin Peay will continue to offer developmental studies, will not be penalized if we have enrollment growth this fall and will continue to have a strong athletic program.

Our new academic year is off to a great beginning!