ROGERSVILLE — U.S. Rep. David Davis said Saturday he voted for a multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus package passed by Congress and expected to be signed soon by President Bush, but noted he didn’t think the package went far enough.
“A real economic stimulus plan involves you to be able to get a good paycheck,” Davis, R-1st, told a Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast.
With those remarks, Davis pitched why he is co-sponsoring economic growth legislation that would provide a 10 percent reduction in the top corporate tax rate.
He stressed the bill would allow businesses to keep more money and hire more workers.
“This will keep jobs from going overseas,” Davis said of the legislation’s impact.
In contrast, the recently-passed $168 billion economic stimulus plan provides for a minimum tax rebate of $300 and $600 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
Tennessee’s two U.S. senators were divided over the stimulus plan. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander voted for it. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who called it a “political stimulus plan,” voted against it.
Aside from Congress’ attempts to revive a slumping economy, Davis said he’ll soon be holding a hearing on health care at East Tennessee State University.
“We’re going to be talking about access, availability and quality of health care,” he said of the event. “We’ll be examining the health care plans of presidential nominees. Health care in America is going to change whomever is president.”
Davis, a health care business owner, said he favored plans that would allow people to use their tax dollars to buy their own health insurance.
“You and your doctor should make your health care decisions not a bureaucrat out of Washington ... (or) not an insurance company out of Nashville,” he said.
The two other main speakers at the event, state Rep. Mike Harrison and state Sen. Mike Williams, focused on hot topics moving through the Tennessee General Assembly.
Harrison, R-Rogersville, said one legislative push to lower the grade point average from 3.0 to 2.75 to retain a lottery scholarship will probably succeed.
He also said lawmakers will debate whether to use lottery reserves for K-12 capital projects – a measure that could pump an additional $1.2 million into Hawkins County schools and about $180,000 into Rogersville city schools.
“About $450 million (in lottery reserves) is sitting there and it needs to be utilized,” Harrison said. “Back when the lottery was on the ballot (in 2002) the first part of it was for scholarships, we’ve done that, the second part was pre-K (pre-kindergarten), we’ve done that, but there’s never been any money going back to counties for improvements to buildings. I know that is not going to make a big impact in the overall picture but ... it will help some. The money is there.”
Williams, the Senate’s lone independent from Maynardville, defended Tennessee’s pre-K program. Republican lawmakers are expected to challenge Gov. Phil Bredesen’s $25 million plan to expand the program.
“People said (pre-K) was nothing but a glorified day care ... if you have young people in a classroom setting with a certified teacher and producing a positive experience, how can you call it a glorified day care? You can’t,” Williams said.
Two people who want Williams’ and Davis’ jobs — Mike Faulk and Phil Roe — were working the crowd at the breakfast held at the Holston Electric Cooperative.
Faulk, a Church Hill attorney, is expected to seek Williams’ 4th Senatorial District seat as a Republican. Williams hasn’t announced whether he will seek re-election.
Roe, Johnson City’s mayor, is looking to unseat Davis in the 1st Congressional District GOP Primary in August.