Rep. Floyd: Capitol Hill Review

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - by Rep. Richard Floyd
General Assembly hears State of the State Address
Governor unveils budget proposal

Governor Bill Haslam delivered his annual State of the State Address to a joint convention this week, unveiling his budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Haslam addressed multiple issues during the State of the State, the most prominent of which include job recruitment and workforce development, investments in both K-12 and higher education, lowering taxes, and a continued push to make government more efficient and effective.
 

House Republican lawmakers were pleased with the governor’s priorities, and look forward to moving his agenda forward through the legislature. Among the key points in the governor’s speech was a focus on balanced budgets, low taxes, and fiscal responsibility. As Washington, D.C. and other states are mired in partisan gridlock with out of control spending, the governor emphasized that Tennessee has made responsible decisions that will continue to ensure the state is positioned to be a leader in country on jobs. 

Job Recruitment and Workforce Development
Building on the success of legislation passed during the Republican-led 107th General Assembly, Governor Haslam’s $32.6 billion balanced budget makes major investments in job recruitment and workforce development, including:
• $16.5 million budgeted to provide technology and equipment related to workforce development programs for community colleges and technology centers across the state.
• A new technical education complex at Northeast State Community College in the Tri-Cities to help train for manufacturing related jobs.
• A much-needed lab building at Nashville State Community College to help train the next generation of students in Middle Tennessee.
• A new state-of-the-art technology center in Smyrna that will be managed in conjunction with Nissan to provide training for area businesses looking for high-skilled employees. 
In addition, the Governor’s budget includes strategic capital investments statewide that will help fund programs to ensure Tennesseans have the skills needed to obtain well-paying, 21st century jobs after graduation. 

K-12 and Higher Education Investment
A large portion of Monday’s State of the State Address was committed to improving education, an issue that both the Governor and Republican legislators have made a priority. The budget proposal calls for:
• 100% funding for the Basic Education Program (BEP) formula.
• A $76.9 million increase in K-12 public school funding, including salary increases for K-12 teachers.
• A school choice program that will allow low-income families who have kids in the lowest-performing schools to attend other schools.
• $307.3 million committed for capital improvements (buildings and infrastructure) at our higher education institutions.
• The investment in an online university focused on improving affordability and access to higher education for the more than 800,000 Tennesseans that have obtained some college credit but have not yet graduated.
In addition to these education proposals during the State of the State, Governor Haslam also announced a strategic initiative called “Drive to 55”. This new initiative, the goal of which is to ensure Tennessee has the best-trained workforce in America, will seek to increase the number of Tennesseans that have earned an Associates degree or higher from 32% to 55% by the year 2025.

Tax Cuts
Multiple tax cuts were passed by Republicans during the 107th session of the General Assembly, including eliminating the gift tax, lowering the sales tax on food, and phasing out the death tax. Similar to last year, the Governor’s 2013-2014 budget includes additional tax cuts for Tennesseans, including:
• A further reduction of the sales tax on groceries to a flat 5%.
• A cut to the Hall Tax which will raise the income exemption level from $26,000 to $33,000 for individuals and $37,000 to $59,000 for joint filers.
• A plan to fully fund the property tax relief program to help low-income seniors, veterans, and the disabled.
• A further reduction of the death tax that raises the income exemption level from $1.25 million to $2 million.
 These tax cut proposals by Governor Haslam reflect an agreement with Republican legislators to prioritize the needs of Tennesseans in a fiscally responsible manner that encourages job growth statewide.

Other Budget Highlights
Other highlights of Governor Haslam’s 2013-2014 budget include:
• A plan to spend $48 million in Corrections to compensate our local jails for housing more state prisoners.
• A proposal to streamline and better utilize the Criminal Gang Enhancement law, making our streets safer.
• A commitment to add $100 million to the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
• A proposal for worker’s compensation reform that will focus on fairness in the system for both the employee and the employer. 
• Upgrading nearly 200 case manager positions in the Department of Children’s Services.
• $4.3 million for the Montgomery County veteran’s home.
• $8 million for a statewide tourism fund to support the work of the tourism commission.


Shame On The Local News People

Thursday night there was a showing of the HBO Movie "Bessie" at the Tivoli Theatre.  "Bessie" was one of our most famous Chattanooga citizens.  Great movie and the outfits were amazing.  Cars and trucks parked out front were beautiful.   Now the problem.  I did not see any coverage by our local "news" persons.  Will HBO want to premier any other ... (click for more)

Sincere Thanks To The County Commission

It seems good government can raise its head every once in a while, so we must thank our County Commissioners for listening to the voice of the vast majority of the taxpayers, and not buying what Superintendent Rick Smith was selling last Wednesday as he pitched his tax increase.  The "it's for the children" ploy didn't work so far this time, so I guess our high-paid superintendent, ... (click for more)

City Applying For Federal Grant To Extend River Trail To Moccasin Bend In $2.23 Million Project

The city is applying for a $1.6 million federal grant that would be a key part of the funding needed to extend a trail by the Tennessee River from Renaissance Park to Moccasin Bend. The city is seeking an Eastern Federal Highway Division grant to go along with $234,260 of city funds. The state portion would be $259,692.  Grants from the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations ... (click for more)

Flora Tydings Selected As Chattanooga State’s Next President

Flora Tydings is expected to be named the next president to lead Chattanooga State Community College pending approval by the Tennessee Board of Regents at a special called meeting next Wednesday. The board will meet at 9:30 a.m. CDT at the TBR System Office in Nashville. Included on the agenda is TBR Chancellor John Morgan’s recommendation for Dr. Tydings to replace Interim President ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats GPS 6-4 For D-II Softball Title

MURFREESBORO – Oh, what a difference a year makes. The GPS Bruisers came through the losers bracket a year ago and beat Baylor twice after losing the first five times they played, but those two were the biggest as it gave the team in blue a state D-II softball championship. The situation was similar a year later, but the results a bit different as the Lady Red Raiders beat ... (click for more)

Dickson County Ousts Ooltewah, 6-5, In Epic 12-Inning Thriller

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – For Ooltewah, more heartbreak followed heartbreak. After a tough loss to Wilson Central on Thursday, the Lady Owls fought furiously with Dickson County in an epic 12-inning marathon Friday before the Lady Cougars’ Keely Buchanan laced a game-winning single up the middle to end  the game and Ooltewah's masterful season. Dickson County, which lost ... (click for more)