Letters: Should Tennessee pay for tourists’ airfare?

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With Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked readers for their thoughts on the “Tennessee on Me” tourist incentive program announced by Gov. Bill Lee, which will pay airfare for out-of-state residents staying at least two nights in one of the state’s four largest cities. Here are some of the responses we received.

Use public money for whole state

Tennessee is bigger than four cities. If $2.5 million is taxpayers’ money, it should be used to benefit the whole state.

One idea: offer an out of state tourist voucher of $100 toward a two-night hotel stay anywhere in the state. It could be given out at airports upon landing with confirmed hotel reservation.

VICTORIA CAMP

Johnson City

Don’t contribute to polluting planes

Some time ago Tennessee legislators saw fit to penalize me and others to the tune of $100/year in car tag registration for saving the environment by driving an electric vehicle.

While this may ostensibly be a revenue “tax,” the number of EVs in Tennessee is so minuscule, it can only be seen as a punitive tax. (For those who claim I charge my car with fossil fuels, I purchase two units of Green Switch from BrightRidge, which guarantees that energy will come from renewable sources.)

Now legislators want to use my tax money to entice people to fly to Tennessee locations for tourism purposes. It is indisputable that airline flight is more damaging to the environment than any other form of transportation. The total carbon impact of a single flight is so high that avoiding just one trip can be equivalent to going (gasoline) car-free for a year.

It is not enough that Tennessee legislators are politically backward, they want to be environmentally backward as well. It is not enough that Tennessee legislators take money from my pocket for behaving responsibly, they want me to subsidize others for behaving irresponsibly.

No, thank you, Tennessee. A climate catastrophe is on its way, destroying biodiversity, initiating the seventh mass extinction, and hastening the demise of humans as a species. I’m doing all I reasonably can to delay that outcome. Don’t coerce me into contributing to it.

CRAIG HAIRE

Johnson City

We can host tourists, too

I think that this region was snubbed as if this region has no tourist attractions and our hotels and restaurants don’t matter. I do not understand how this could happen!

These mountains offer boating, hiking, relaxation, shopping and much more. Jonesborough is a destination for tourists. The NASCAR track is a huge draw. The local festivals draw people to this region.

To provide my tax dollars to attract visitors does not bother me and I think does have merit. What does bother me is the misalignment of these tax dollars — my tax dollars — given in support of other locations. It showed a total disregard and disrespect to our region.

The only time this region seems to get noticed is during some election that a politician is seeking votes! Shame on the governor!

JANIE C JESSEE

Johnson City

We shouldn’t need to use bribes

Thinking of the the common good and my taxes left me thinking once again about how my tax money is spent. That left me thinking about what people usually say they look for in a community.

The bottom line things I hear are good schools, health care, adequate housing, community spirit and often low taxes. These things are generally thought of as the “common good.” Perhaps if our taxes were used to provide/enhance the things folks say they want there would be no need to bribe them to come.

If corporations need workers they can also help provide these kinds of benefits and recruit workers by supporting the common good in the community that supports them. I doubt most people would mind paying taxes if it is used to provide the kind of community they want to live in.

I believe this kind of spending should be equally available to all areas rather that just four cities.

JEAN HALL

Johnson City

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