Rep. Floyd: Capitol Hill Review

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - by Rep. Richard Floyd
Tennessee Comptroller Gives Overview of State Finances

During House budget hearings this week, Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson praised accomplishments by lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session to cut taxes, pass a balanced budget, and reduce the overall size of state government.  

“Tennessee’s current financial state is attributable to the willingness of the General Assembly to enact budgets that have foregone, reduced or eliminated expenses and services,” said Wilson.
 He also attributed recent financial success to the ability of the Haslam Administration to create efficiencies in government operations.

Looking forward, however, Wilson cautioned lawmakers to be careful about future spending plans, stating the costs associated with funding potential federal mandates, such as the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), exceed optimistic revenue projections. As such, Wilson encouraged legislators to continue reducing expenses and for the Haslam Administration to continue increasing the efficiency of state operations.

University of Tennessee Economists Predict Stronger Economy in Coming Years

Economists with the University of Tennessee this week predicted the state will see a stronger economy over the next two years. 

While the economic outlook calls for modest growth in 2013, the study also cites “substantially stronger growth” in 2014. In addition, the report states Tennessee's unemployment rate will fall to 7.9 percent this year and 7.5 percent in 2014.

The study also predicts natural resource related fields, construction, and professional business services will see the strongest growth rates over the coming years.

For more information on this study, visit http://cber.bus.utk.edu.
Republican Legislators Spearhead Effort to Cut Size of State Government

Republican legislators this week unveiled a new measure aimed at cutting the size of Tennessee government. The initiative, referred to as the Office of the Repealer, follows through on a Republican promise to streamline state government, save taxpayer dollars, and make the legislative process more transparent to the general public.

The Office of the Repealer will be a one-time, four-year position with the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the legislature of areas of government waste, duplication, and out-of-date regulations that should be removed from the law books. 

In addition, the Repealer will take recommendations directly from the public, basing its decisions on input received from business-owners, educators, activists, and concerned citizens from across the state.

The Office of the Repealer will be housed under the Secretary of State and will be implemented using funding previously approved for a now obsolete staff position, thus costing no additional money to Tennessee taxpayers.

Education Reform Group Calls for More Difficult College Standards

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education is calling for tougher college standards for Tennessee students, an announcement that was made Tuesday during SCORE's third annual review of the state's progress in education.

Among the recommendations offered, SCORE Chairman Bill Frist emphasized that state lawmakers must not go back on progress made over the last few years relating to education reform. In particular, Frist cited that legislators be firm making sure reforms passed over the last two years are not diluted during the 2013-2014 legislation session.

Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education, detailed proposals by Governor Haslam to continue improving education in Tennessee, stating that while the Administration feels good about the progress and policies in place to help education move forward, there is still a “very, very long way to go”.

Additional details on the SCORE report can be found at www.tnscore.org.


Ideas For CARTA

RE: CARTA Ridership Down I have a couple of ideas that came after reading the above mentioned article.  First, if ridership is down that dramatically, perhaps we should begin to phase out the least-used routes.  These must be the most heavily subsidized routes, obviously because no revenue is being generated. Revenue seems to be important to CARTA, considering that ... (click for more)

District 1 Is Getting The Short End Of A Very Long Stick

These discretionary funds are just not proportional per district because each district has their own set of challenges. Each district has their own needs and no two districts are the same. Questions arose as to why we don't use discretionary funds in District 1 on all of the needs in the school for its schools.  Here is why that is a challenge for Commissioner Fairbanks. ... (click for more)

Severe Storms Rake Chattanooga Area; Flash Flooding Possible

Severe storms raked through the Chattanooga area on Saturday. Sale Creek was one of the hardest hit areas. Storm damage on Cooper Road included two crushed cars. Trees were on homes and railroad tracks that are the main line between Chattanooga and Cincinnati. Cooper Road is near Lake Chickamauga. There was also damage along Providence Road at Sale Creek. ... (click for more)

Woman's Body Found On Lookout Mountain

A woman's body was found on Lookout Mountain On Saturday. The badly decomposed body was found by hunters. It was in the woods in a remote area near High Road. The GBI will be investigating. (click for more)

Trojans Beat Eagles 4-3 On Couch's Walk-Off Single In Seventh

Signal Mountain rolled into Saturday afternoon’s high school baseball game against Soddy-Daisy riding a nine-game winning streak. The Eagles outscored the last six opponents in the streak by a combined 87-15, including a 26-2 rout of Red Bank just prior to taking on the Trojans. Soddy-Daisy used five pitchers to contain the Eagles, overcame a solid start by Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Thompson Romps To Win In Chickamauga Chase

Nobody would have blamed Christian Thompson if he had decided to take it easy Saturday morning and simply enjoy running the 49 th annual Chickamauga Chase. After all, the 28-year-old Fleet Feet sales associate averaged 5:29 per mile in finishing 29 th overall in the Boston Marathon just five days ago with a world-classed time of 2:23:51. Admitting that his legs were just ... (click for more)