Rep. Floyd: Capitol Hill Review

Thursday, February 07, 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the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the legislature of areas of government waste, duplication, and out-of-date regulations that should be removed from the law books.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.


Immigration

Remember when Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, except for those brown-skinned Spanish-speaking children from south of the Rio Grande”? Yea, me neither. But you’d pressed hard-pressed to find any among the Republican Tea Party crowd who don’t believe (or at least wish strongly enough to believe, which is good enough for $COTU$) ... (click for more)

Kudzu Incursion On Scenic Highway

I don't know if I am the only Lookout Mountain resident to notice that Scenic Highway is about to be one and a half lanes. Kudzu is encroaching over the guard rail and onto the road. In many places you can no longer tell where the road ends and the guard rail begins. A number of new and older drivers don't need to be guessing about where the road ends. Tommy Dickinson (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Fast-Starting Vols Gear Up For Another Mobile QB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It’s a new week for Tennessee’s football team, but the challenge that awaits in Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon will be a familiar reminder of the one the Volunteers just completed. The Volunteers have a short week to prepare for Arkansas State, a team much like Utah State, which relies heavily on a dual-threat quarterback and a physical front line. ... (click for more)

Lookouts Reach Southern League Northern Division Playoffs With Doubleheader Win Over Smokies

The Chattanooga Lookouts are now playoff bound after sweeping a double-header against the Tennessee Smokies  to clinch the Southern League North Division for the second half of the season. The first game of the double-header was backed by a masterful gem of a game thrown by the starter for the Lookouts, Steve Smith (W, 3-2). Smith dominated the Smokies' lineup from top ... (click for more)