Legislative Democrats Introduce Measure to Tackle Income Inequality

Advocate Andy

Rep. Jones, Sen. Lamar offer Pay Disparity Tax legislation in effort to boost worker wages

Two legislative Democrats are calling on their colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly to pass what they are calling the Pay Disparity Tax - a measure designed to address situations where CEO pay far outstrips the pay of the average worker in a company.

Rep. Justin Jones of Nashville and Sen. London Lamar of Memphis say they want to discourage multi-billion-dollar corporations from paying wages so low their workers quality for government assistance.

“When a big corporation has a huge disparity in pay between workers and the CEO, it’s Tennessee taxpayers who pay for health and food assistance for their workers,” Rep. Jones said. “We are subsidizing some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the history of our nation and it would be completely unnecessary if these companies respected their workers and paid a living wage.”

Under the CEO Pay Disparity Tax Act, companies that pay their top executive at least 100 times more than the pay of a median worker would be required to pay an additional excise tax.

The lawmakers offered research showing the level of pay disparity in some businesses.

Today, a cashier at Walmart in Nashville would have to work more than 823 years to earn what the company’s CEO Doug McMillon was paid last year. Similarly, a crew team member at a McDonald’s in Nashville would have to work 865 years to earn what the company paid its CEO Chris Kempczinski in 2021.

“Tennesseans on both sides of the aisle are appalled by the extreme disparity between CEO and worker pay,” said Sen. Lamar. “Wealthy, corporate executives keep doing better no matter what, while working families in Tennessee, who helped produce these profits and paid their fair share of state taxes, are struggling to afford health care, pay rent, and put food on the table.”

Rep. Justin Jones and Sen. London LamarPhoto byTennessee Senate Democrats

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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