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the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the legislature of areas of government waste, duplication, and out-of-date regulations that should be removed from the law books.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