Senator wants to freeze tuition, cut grocery sales tax

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis State Senator wants to freeze college tuition costs and make bigger cuts to the grocery sales tax.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle is calling on using the state's surplus to make decisions that are sure to please the public. But his opponent in the primary election is calling his proposal a political stunt.

"We're making high education and the sales tax off of food as priorities in our budgeting process," explained Senator Kyle. "We need to ask the board of regents and ask the UT board of trustees not to as they are talking about doing, which is essentially a tax on those trying to get an education."

Kyle said there is a budget surplus of $225 million in the state of Tennessee. He wants that money committed to freezing tuition and cutting the grocery sales tax.

His opponent, Senator Beverly Morerro, said his proposal is a political stunt.

"I just don't believe in doing or saying a lot of political rhetoric just because it's an election year for things that are really not possible and are not going to happen," said Senator Morerro.

Due to redistricting statewide, Democratic Senator Beverly Marrero and Senator Jim Kyle are vying for the same district seat. Both of them have been politically aligned inNashville but now they are opposed in the primary election August 2.

" I have always been opposed to the sale tax on groceries," said Marerro. "I think it is a terrible thing that we are increasing tuition."

She continued, "It's a little misleading to tell people or to give the impression that you could do things that you really have no control over."

The governor's office responded to Kyle's proposal in a written statement released by the governor's press secretary:

"We want to be sure we have a complete picture of what our budget commitments will look like before we start spending funds in an ad hoc way. There are still unknown expenses out there, such as Obamacare and TennCare inflation. As for higher education, examining the cost structure is certainly part of that process. However that should be done in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, not from a temporary, quick-fix perspective."

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.