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.


How The Swen Merchant Destroyed The Kingdom

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom. This kingdom was a prosperous kingdom and it was filled with peoples from many lands.  The people were happy in this kingdom and took great pride in being a part of it.  One day, a Swen Merchant came to the kingdom.  He looked in amazement at the prosperity of the kingdom and at all the peoples that lived and work in it.  The ... (click for more)

Jonathan Welch Serves The Schools In District 2 Well

These are wonderful times for the families whose children attend the Hamilton County schools in District 2. One can sense renewed energy and commitment by all stakeholders who are connected to Alpine Crest, Red Bank, Rivermont, Nolan and Thrasher. Red Bank Middle and Signal Mountain Middle continue to build on the strong foundations delivered by the elementary schools and are developing ... (click for more)

Man, 28, Shot And Killed In East Chattanooga

A 28-year-old man was shot and killed in East Chattanooga early Friday morning. The victim was identified as Jeremy Clark. At 1:20 a.m., Chattanooga Police officers responded to 2008 Glass St. on a person shot. One victim was found suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Police said investigators were gathering information on the potential ... (click for more)

Election Officials Awaiting Amended Financial Disclosure From Siedlecki After GOP Files Complaint

Election officials were awaiting an amended financial disclosure form from Democratic assessor of property candidate Mark Siedlecki after county Republicans said he accepted far above the legal limit from a corporation he heads. Mr. Siedlecki met Thursday with Election Administrator Kerry Steelman and said the amended form would be in sometime Friday. Marty Haynes, the ... (click for more)

Lookouts Get Walk-Off Win Over Smokies Thursday, 4-3

With the score tied at three with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Lookouts outfielder Zack Granite singled home Edgar Corcino to give the team with 4-3 walk-off win over the Smokies.   Tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Corcino led off with his second hit of the game. He advanced to second base on a bunt. A Levi Michael single pushed Corcino to third ... (click for more)

TSSAA Sets Future Division I, Division II Classifications

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has released the minutes from Wednesday’s meeting in Hermitage pertaining to football classification period for the 2017-18 and run through 2020-2021 1.  Roll Call 2.  Division I and Division II Classification The Board of Control voted the following for the classification period that ... (click for more)