Skewed Priorities Of The Republican Supermajority - And Response (3)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

As Tennessee’s 108th General Assembly begins its work, we again call attention to the skewed priorities of the Republican supermajority. 

Poll after poll shows that Tennesseans want action on jobs and the economy, education and health care, in that order. But what can we already expect from this state legislature? Bills to put guns everywhere, including into the classroom, school voucher programs that gut public education, a refusal to accept TennCare expansion, and more tax breaks for the wealthy.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent, which represents hundreds of thousands of people still out of work. And we know the unemployment rate for some groups, notably African Americans and young people, is much higher than that. Where are the Republican ideas and plans to help get these people back to work and the state’s economy growing? Instead, we have Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey introducing legislation to create higher exemptions for the Hall income tax on stocks and bonds. Where is the proposal to further lower the punitive sales tax, which disproportionately affects low-income Tennesseans? Where are the GOP proposals to fix our crumbling infrastructure, which could put people back to work? Where is the Republican support for the Tennessee First Act, that would support employment here in our state? 

Rather than addressing the needs of Tennessee’s schools, the ALEC agenda is alive and well with Republican legislators. Our state continues to rank in the bottom 10 for quality education. But the GOP’s answer to this consists of vouchers and more vouchers and now, apparently, arming teachers is more important than helping them educate their students.

As for the Republican opposition to expanding TennCare, that falls plainly in the same category as actions by national House members, who just introduced a bill for the 33rd time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Never mind that more than 300,000 people would be greatly aided by an expansion that would be paid 100 percent by the federal government for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter. Resentment of a president who was just overwhelming reelected is apparently more important than the health of Tennesseans. It is nothing short of shameful. 

Paul Smith
Chairman, Hamilton County Democratic Party

* * * 

There are good points made in this article. Tennessee leaders should focus on education. Tennessee, and the Chattanooga area, is a difficult job market for young people.  

But here's the main issue with all government work. Who funds it? Does the government truly fund the Affordable Care Act? The government's funding comes from taxes collected on American citizens. The government, and its citizens, are $16.5 trillion in debt. The government has already put every American $56,000 in debt. The current administration has no plans to cut spending. The current administration doesn't even have a budget in place. 

So how can states cope? How can states increase revenue? By increasing taxes on commonly purchased items. By attracting and retaining as many wealthy business owners as possible by cutting taxes on the wealthy. Even at a lower income tax rate, these people still pay a larger sum than the less fortunate. These business owners also pay business taxes, licensing fees, and employ local workers. While their income tax percentage may shrink, their contributions to a community far outweigh any number of dollars they give to the government. Look at Volkswagen and Amazon - they've pumped massive amounts of money into the Chattanooga area. They fund projects that put millions of dollars into the local economy, and they ended up in Chattanooga partially because of tax breaks and other business incentives. 

It goes beyond a dislike of a person in office. Resentment among educated voters comes from an understand and clear dislike of policy.  

Aristotle's ideas express the best possible route of politics - everything in moderation. The far left and far right arguments are old and have run their course. With the national debt and "fiscal cliff", it's obviously time to rise above petty politics and move forward with realistic ideas and policies. 

McLain Still

* * *

The federal government and other states could well take note of the accomplishments already made by the Tennessee Legislature with its super majority: a balanced budget, beginning reductions on burdensome taxes, new business starts, a move toward less government interference and to address the concerns of the citizens it serves.  All of these strides were made in the last General Assembly.   

For over 100 years of domination by a party concentrating on more and bigger government at last the opportunity has come to prove what can be accomplished when effective and responsive government is the goal.  This new Assembly now offers the opportunity to build on the positive foundation laid these past two years.  They have already proven and will continue to demonstrate that it really does matter who governs. 

Bobby Wood
Harrison

* * *

Memo to Paul Smith. We had an election. You lost. Get over it.

Douglas Jones
North Chattanooga


New School Funding Ideas

After reading the article “County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding,” I could not help but think about how helpful it would be to have the millions of taxpayer dollars given the owners of Walnut Common apartments to build some new schools.   In case you did not know, since 2008 our elected officials have given away millions in taxpayer ... (click for more)

Silence From Rhonda Thurman

I find it deplorable that Rhonda Thurman is, once again, voicing her opinions so quickly and so vehemently.  She seems to be the one school board member that wants media and/or press coverage every time the opportunity avails itself.  However, when it comes to responding to personal emails sent directly to her…she zips her lips. I, as all of the citizens of Hamilton ... (click for more)

City Administrator Lurone Jennings Suspended For Misallocation Of Funds

Rev. Lurone Jennings, administrator of City Youth and Family Development, has been suspended for one week for misallocation of funds. He also is to be issued a letter of reprimand and will undergo ethics training. The action came after a critical audit report from City Auditor Stan Sewell. It says Mr. Jennings transferred $18,500 of funds to a program, Journey Educational ... (click for more)

New Walker County Commissioner Whitfield To Move Public Meetings To Evenings And To Larger Venue; Will Also Be Listening Sessions

Walker County Sole Commissioner-Elect Shannon Whitfield said there will be a new arrangement for holding of public commissioner sessions when he takes place at the start of January. Current Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has held Thursday meetings at 3:30 p.m. from time to time in a conference room at her office near the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette. Mr. Whitfield said those ... (click for more)

CSAS Gets Defensive In Win Over Boyd-Buchanan

High school basketball is still in the early stages of the 2016-17 season, but CSAS coach Mark Dragoo is already seeing improvement from his team and they’ve only played four games. The Patriots are always a good team with lots of quick, athletic players who can shoot well and play sticky defense. That was the case on Friday night at Boyd-Buchanan as the Patriots shot well ... (click for more)

Bradley Girls Stave Off Stone Memorial's Upset Bid, 48-46

The Bradley Central Bearettes’ ninth straight win to open the high school basketball season was their toughest to date. The Bearettes got a game-winning field goal from junior standout Rhyne Howard – on an assist by Halle Hughes – with no time left on the clock for a 48-46 non-district victory over stubborn Stone Memorial at Jim Smiddy Arena on Friday night. After a turnover ... (click for more)