Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Herron Calls for End to GOP Shutdown Hurting Tennessee Economy

Monday, October 7th, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today called for Congressional Republicans to stop harming Tennessee businesses and working families by ending the government shutdown.

“A small faction of one party in one House in one branch of the government has shut down the government and taken the American economy hostage,” Herron [...]

Democrats Announce First Phase of Job Creation Legislation

Thursday, October 6th, 2011


jobs tour

Democrats announce first phase of jobs package to put Tennesseans back to work.

 

Plan includes $15 million investment in state technology centers

NASHVILLE – Tennessee House and Senate Democrats announced the first phase of their job creation plan Thursday, which includes calling for $15 million for new equipment and program expansion at the state’s 27 technology centers.

“We heard about the success of our skills training across the state during our jobs tour, but the one thing we heard again and again was the need for more skilled workers,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “This investment would enable our technology centers to train more workers faster and get them a good education with an even better job.”

The state’s technology centers’ average completion rate is 75 percent, and the job placement rate is 85 percent. They have been recognized as a national model, but currently only 4 percent of all higher education students in Tennessee attend a technology center.

“The thousands of manufacturing jobs that have come back to Tennessee need a highly skilled workforce. We have the structure to provide that workforce, but we must provide the resources to meet the capacity needs,” said House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. Now is the time to make this investment, because it will pay dividends for our workers and our state for a generation.”

Other legislation discussed by Democrats Thursday included:

  • The creation of a commercial properties database for prospective employers to quickly identify potential areas for relocation and expansion;
  • Doubling the capacity of the West Tennessee solar farm by 2013 to keep up with national competition;
  • Providing small businesses a sales tax holiday of up to $5,000 for equipment purchases and upgrades;
  • Fully funding the West Tennessee megasite, in order to give the Grand Division the same opportunities afforded Chattanooga with Volkswagen and Clarksville with Hemlock;
  • Providing a New Entrepreneur Tax Credit for new business owners to recover startup and expansion costs; and
  • A program modeled after the Georgia Works initiative that allows employers to train Tennesseans receiving unemployment benefits, with the goal of providing trainees expanded job opportunities and the potential for a full-time job.

Democrats noted that the initiatives discussed Thursday were only the first phase of an ongoing, bipartisan process to identify ways state government can play a role in job creation.

“We are in a jobs crisis right now, and we need all hands on deck to help sail the ship through these choppy waters,” said Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney. “It’s going to take all of us working together to put Tennesseans back to work.”

 

 

Democrats Announce First Phase of Job Creation Legislation

Thursday, October 6th, 2011


jobs tour

Democrats announce first phase of jobs package to put Tennesseans back to work.

 

Plan includes $15 million investment in state technology centers

NASHVILLE – Tennessee House and Senate Democrats announced the first phase of their job creation plan Thursday, which includes calling for $15 million for new equipment and program expansion at the state’s 27 technology centers.

“We heard about the success of our skills training across the state during our jobs tour, but the one thing we heard again and again was the need for more skilled workers,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “This investment would enable our technology centers to train more workers faster and get them a good education with an even better job.”

The state’s technology centers’ average completion rate is 75 percent, and the job placement rate is 85 percent. They have been recognized as a national model, but currently only 4 percent of all higher education students in Tennessee attend a technology center.

“The thousands of manufacturing jobs that have come back to Tennessee need a highly skilled workforce. We have the structure to provide that workforce, but we must provide the resources to meet the capacity needs,” said House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. Now is the time to make this investment, because it will pay dividends for our workers and our state for a generation.”

Other legislation discussed by Democrats Thursday included:

  • The creation of a commercial properties database for prospective employers to quickly identify potential areas for relocation and expansion;
  • Doubling the capacity of the West Tennessee solar farm by 2013 to keep up with national competition;
  • Providing small businesses a sales tax holiday of up to $5,000 for equipment purchases and upgrades;
  • Fully funding the West Tennessee megasite, in order to give the Grand Division the same opportunities afforded Chattanooga with Volkswagen and Clarksville with Hemlock;
  • Providing a New Entrepreneur Tax Credit for new business owners to recover startup and expansion costs; and
  • A program modeled after the Georgia Works initiative that allows employers to train Tennesseans receiving unemployment benefits, with the goal of providing trainees expanded job opportunities and the potential for a full-time job.

Democrats noted that the initiatives discussed Thursday were only the first phase of an ongoing, bipartisan process to identify ways state government can play a role in job creation.

“We are in a jobs crisis right now, and we need all hands on deck to help sail the ship through these choppy waters,” said Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney. “It’s going to take all of us working together to put Tennesseans back to work.”

 

 

TNDP: Strengthen Our Fiscal House By Putting Tennesseans Back to Work

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

NASHVILLE — State Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester urged Tennessee’s top Republicans to consider a jobs plan to keep the state’s fiscal house in order.

“The surest way to strengthen our state’s fiscal house is to put 300,000 Tennesseans back to work. If Ron Ramsey and Governor Bill Haslam put half the effort they expend wooing big corporate donations into a common sense jobs plan, Tennessee would get there a lot faster.”

Forrester pressed Gov. Bill Haslam and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey for action on the state’s job crisis in statement Wednesday following the Republicans’ meeting with Wall Street bond rating agencies.

“This bond rating dog and pony show for Wall Street executives looks obnoxious to the 300,000 Tennesseans who are struggling to find work and provide for their families,” Forrester said. “They’d like to see a day where the numbers we brag about are Tennessee’s low unemployment rate and high economic output.

“There’s no doubt Wall Street was impressed with Governor Haslam’s contingency plan to fire 5,000 workers and eliminate crucial services that keep families healthy, children educated and the disabled properly cared for. However, Tennesseans who’ve seen this extreme plan are not so enthusiastic,” Chip Forrester said. “Haslam’s slash-and-burn budget would send our state into an even more severe economic tailspin and prompt a societal crisis that would diminish the quality of life for every Tennessean.”

This summer Gov. Haslam instructed state department heads to plan for 30 percent budget cuts to be enacted if Tennessee receives less federal funding.

—30—

House, Senate Dems announce statewide jobs tour Sept. 19-24

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Tennessee’s House and Senate Democratic Caucuses announced Wednesday that their members will embark on a six-day tour across the state Sept. 19-24 to talk to business owners, local officials and the public about how to best grow jobs in Tennessee. 

“Across the country and here in Tennessee, we are stuck in a jobs crisis, and it’s going to take everyone working together to get us out of it,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “Jobs are the number one priority for Tennesseans, and they also must be the top priority for their elected officials.”

Members will begin the tour Monday, Sept. 19, in Memphis, with stops throughout rural and urban areas across the state (see schedule below). The tour will end Saturday, Sept. 24, in Putnam and Smith Counties.

The unemployment rate in Tennessee currently sits at 9.8 percent, meaning more than 306,000 Tennesseans are looking for jobs and can’t find one. County unemployment rates are as high as 19.8 percent.

“People want their lawmakers to do something to combat the unemployment crisis, especially in rural areas that have been hit the hardest,” said State Senator Eric Stewart. “There’s a lot we can learn from going out there and listening to the people who are creating jobs, as well as the people who are looking for jobs.”

The tour will include several discussions and events open to the public, as well as daily press briefings and updates through traditional and social media. Members participating on the tour have pledged to use the feedback they receive on the tour to draft legislation directly addressing job growth throughout the state.

“The tour is our opportunity to listen, gather ideas and make decisions on what we can do as a state legislature to promote jobs in Tennessee,” Fitzhugh said. “We hope it will mark the beginning of a sustained focus on jobs and economic growth from all of our elected officials as we enter the next legislative session.”

————————-
Day 1 (Monday, Sept. 19): Corporate Partnerships Day (Shelby & Haywood) 

  • 8 a.m. Kickoff at the University of Memphis with Corporate Jobs Roundtable
  • 1 p.m. Tour of West Tennessee Megasite with Mayor Franklin Smith
  • 2 p.m. Tour of West Tennessee Solar Farm with Mayor Franklin Smith

Day 2 (Tuesday, Sept. 20): Small Business Day (Madison & Weakley)

  • 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Drop-ins at small businesses in Madison County
  • Noon – 2 p.m. Drop-ins at small businesses in Weakley County

Day 3 (Wednesday, Sept. 21): Technical Jobs Day (Rutherford & Maury)

  • Morning: Tour of Nissan LEAF Plant in Rutherford County
  • Noon – 2 p.m. Technical Jobs Roundtable at Columbia State Community College
  • 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Drop-ins at Maury County small businesses

Day 4 (Thursday, Sept. 22): Green Jobs Day (Warren & Hamilton)

  • 7 a.m. Breakfast at Tennessee State University Nursery Research Center in McMinnville
  • 8 a.m. Meet with nurserymen and tour Otis Floyd Research Center
  • Noon: Tour of Chattanooga State Community College
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Tour new energy businesses in Chattanooga

Day 5 (Friday, Sept. 23): Research/Education Jobs Day (Knox)

  • 8 a.m. Breakfast with Councilmember Brenda Palmer and small business owners
  • 10 a.m. Business Round Table at the Chamber of Commerce
  • Noon – 2 p.m. Drop-ins at small businesses in Knox County
  • 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Meet w/Piper Communications to discuss growing the clean energy sector

Day 6 (Saturday, Sept. 24): Ecotourism Jobs Day (Putnam & Smith)

  • 8 a.m. Breakfast at Dipsy Doodle in Putnam County
  • 10 a.m. – Noon: Drop-ins at small businesses in Cookeville
  • 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Tour of Catesa Farms in Smith County

 

Tennessee Democratic Caucus: House, Senate Dems announce statewide jobs tour.

TNDP Chair: GOP Lawmakers ‘Out of Touch with Reality’

Friday, September 9th, 2011

1-in-10 hunting for jobs—Republican lawmaker says Tennessee ‘too easy’ on job seekers
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called out Republican lawmakers Thursday for being “out of touch with reality” on growing the state economy and assisting Tennessee’s 300,000 job seekers.
“We don’t have a shortage of work ethic in Tennessee, we have a shortage of work. We have roads and bridges to fix, safe energy to harness, and schools to rebuild,” Forrester said. “Instead of playing politics and mocking people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own, Republicans should want to work with Democrats in finding ways to make Tennessee work again for Tennesseans.”
In August, Wacker Chemie, a Germany-based company that former Gov. Phil Bredesen recruited to set up in Bradley County, reportedly accepted 10,000 applications for 130 positions.
Forrester’s statement comes after a comment made Thursday by Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock. Matlock said Tennessee’s 306,000 job seekers weren’t actually looking for work because they have no incentive to find a job.
“We’re making it too easy,” Matlock said in reference to the extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
In Tennessee, the maximum unemployment insurance benefit is $1,100 a month or less. That’s at the poverty line.
“The truth is Tennesseans want to work, and Democrats won’t rest until every Tennessean who wants to work has a job,” Forrester said. “Irresponsible comments like the one from Mr. Matlock just reaffirm how out of touch with reality Republicans have become.”
On Wednesday Democratic members of the state House and Senate announced a six-day jobs tour across the state Sept. 19-24 to talk to business owners, local officials and the public about how to best grow jobs in Tennessee.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris accused his Democratic colleagues of using the tour for politics.
“That’s a rich accusation coming from Sen. Norris considering his party killed a dozen Democratic jobs bills this year and did absolutely nothing on their own to grow the economy,” Forrester said. “Sen. Norris and Gov. Bill Haslam are obviously waiting for Santa to leave jobs under the tree this Christmas.
“Republicans continue to sit on their hands and call it ‘leadership,’” Forrester said. “It’s past time Republicans stopped complaining about the government, and started focusing on running it well.”

FACTS: Plenty of work ethic, not enough work
  • In Bradley County, Wacker has received 10,000 applications and made 130 hires. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8/17/11]
  • In Knox County, 700 students attend a jobs fair at UT Knoxville [Daily Beacon, 8/26/11]
  • In Robertson County, 400 people turned out for a job fair [NewsChannel5.com, 8/17/11]
  • In Hamilton County, Amazon.com received 4,300 applications in two days. [Memphis Business Journal, 5/18/11]
  • In Rutherford County, 800 people apply for teaching positions. [Daily News Journal, 5/15/11]
  • In Knox County, Jobs News’ drew more than 1,400 job seekers. [WVLT, 5/4/11]
  • In Tullahoma, 60 people applied for 10 jobs — at McDonalds. [Tullahoma News & Guardian, 4/28/11]
  • In Montgomery County, “thousands of people” attend a two-day job fair in Clarksville. [The Leaf-Chronicle, 4/28/11]
  • In Shelby County, more than 20,000 job-seekers applied over 14 days to work at a brewery that plans to hire 500 workers over the next five years. [The Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4/13/11]
Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 9.8%
That’s higher than the national average. 306,200 Tennesseans are still looking for jobs. [BLS.gov, 9/8/11]
RHETORIC: Tennessee Republicans eager to abandon and mock people who’ve lost their jobs.
Rep. Jimmy Matlock: “We’re making it too easy.” [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9/8/11]
Rep. Glen Casada: “I would contend the answer to that is it’s up to individuals to help their family and their friends and neighbors who don’t have a job.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]
Rep. Tim Wirgau: “We got people who can’t find jobs, but we got more people who don’t look for jobs because we keep handing them money.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

Republican Plan for the Economy: Higher Unemployment for Tennessee

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
New analysis shows extreme plan endorsed by Sen. Corker, GOP presidential front runners would cost Tennessee 184,569 jobs

NASHVILLE—In advance of tonight’s GOP presidential debate in California, the Tennessee Democratic Party released a new estimate of the number of jobs which would be lost in Tennessee if the Republican Party’s presidential candidates and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker are able to pursue their extreme economic policies.

The analysis conducted by the Democratic National Committee found that just the balanced budget amendment, like the one included in the Tea Party budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, would result in the loss of 9.5 million American jobs and 184,569 jobs in Tennessee.

The loss of so many jobs would likely sink the economy into a depression the likes of which the country hasn’t experienced since the Great Depression. Sen. Corker and every Republican presidential candidate has come out in favor of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution or supported the Tea Party budget plan which contains one.

TNDP Chair Chip Forrester released this statement:

“9.5 million American jobs lost and 184,569 jobs lost here Tennessee, a second Great Depression, devastation for the middle class, small businesses, students and seniors, an end to Medicare, and a slashed Social Security — that’s the Republican plan for our economy.

“There’s no question we need to get our fiscal house in order and get the economy moving, but the price Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sen. Bob Corker are willing to pay to appeal to the most extreme and narrow elements of the Tea Party is too high – especially for Tennesseans.

“The Republican approach is like setting dynamite to your home to fix a leaky faucet — and these misguided choices are the result of a Republican Party which has turned over an increasing amount of power to its Tea Party fringe.

“Americans want real solutions to the problems we face and they want a plan to create jobs in the short term and lay a foundation for long-term economic prosperity. What Republicans are proposing falls devastatingly flat on all fronts.”

The new analysis looked at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) August deficit projections for 2012 ( $991 billion deficit with CBO options for Iraq drawdown, extension of all tax provisions and Alternative Minimum Tax indexing and accounting for the so-called “Doc” fix), and using the conservative Romer-Bernstein rule of thumb that 1 percent of GDP equates to 1 million jobs, concluded that if the plan were fully phased in 2012 and nearly a trillion dollars in federal spending was slashed, the balanced budget amendment would cost 9.5 million jobs nationwide.

Because of the balanced budget amendment’s strict requirements for deep cuts, hard spending caps and a two-thirds majority to raise revenue, Congress would be virtually helpless to reverse the negative effects of these Tea Party Republican policies.

BACKGROUND:


Corker Praises House for Passing Cut, Cap, and Balance, Calls on Senate to Do the Same. [Corker.Senate.gov, 7/21/11]

GOP Overreach

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It’s crystal clear that Tennesseans have soundly rejected the extremist GOP agenda rammed through the state legislature this year.

A new, statewide Vanderbilt University poll found that support for the Republican-led state legislature has “plummeted 20 percentage points since January.

The GOP honeymoon is over and Tennesseans are riled up like never before over lawmakers stripping teachers of their right to collectively bargain for smaller class sizes, school supplies, and text books while cutting millions from public and higher education budgets.

Attacking teachers and our public schools is outrageous!  Please contribute $5 or more to help us fight back.  A generous Democrat will match your gifit dollar-for-dollar making your donation go twice as far.

Teachers and public education weren’t the only targets of the GOP.

Since January we have seen a systematic assault on Tennessee values:

  • IGNORED JOBS CRISIS. In 2010, Republicans campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Less than one year later, the majority party buried its head in the sand and ignored the crisis facing 300,000 Tennesseans looking for work. And since the GOP took charge, Tennessee’s unemployment rate has climbed to nearly 10 percent.
  • LAVISH RAISES. Gov. Bill Haslam made cuts to important health programs while handing out more than $250,000 worth of raises to his top cronies, all of whom already made six-figure salaries. One commissioner even got a 32% raise — in his first week on the job!
  • PROTECTED PREJUDICE. The GOP gave into the radical right-wing of its party, bowing to demands to overturn Metro-Nashville Council’s CANDO ordinance that required businesses with city contracts to employ non-discrimination hiring policies.

Click here for a more complete look at damage done by Republicans this year.

In short Republicans junked their promise to strengthen the state economy and create jobs in favor of ideological pet projects that harm our families and the least among us.

This poll shows that Tennesseans regret giving Republicans a chance behind the wheel and have quickly become sick of their reckless driving.

Tennesseans are not interested in political retaliation against teachers, they want good schools for their children.

Tennesseans are not interested in the anti-woman demands of the far right, they want to make sure their mothers, sisters and babies are healthy and well cared for.

Tennesseans are not interested in protecting reckless corporations from the damage they do, they want to protect victims and hold corporations responsible for their actions.

Republicans have given us no reason to think they will come to their senses in 2012. Last month Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey bragged on Facebook:

“This year was just an appetizer. Next year, and in the years to come, you will see the main course.”

Whatever Ramsey has in mind, you can rest assured it won’t be good for Tennessee.

If you want to stop the GOP’s radical agenda and put Tennessee on a  path to a thriving economy where prosperity is shared by all, a path where a good education is available to every student, regardless of their circumstance, a path where government serves the people and is not beholden to moneyed special interest then stand with us.

Your gift of $5 or more will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling your effort to take back our state for working and middle class Tennesseans.

We can win this fight, but we can’t do it without your support.

 

An Overview of the 2011 General Assembly

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

After just five months of Republican control in the General Assembly and the Governor’s mansion, things in Tennessee are getting worse.

“How bad is it?” Wendi Thomas of The Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote. “It’s so bad I may have to say I’m from Mississippi.”

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Help Tennessee Democrats fight back against this extremist agenda by making a $5 gift to the TNDP

In short, this year Republicans junked their promise to strengthen the state economy and help people find work in favor of ideological pet projects and radical social engineering that takes the wheels off the notion of responsible governance.

Democratic State Sen. Andy Berke summed it up this way:

“There are many things that we’ve done this year that are going to hurt Tennessee, and ultimately, the people who passed them will pay a cost for that… [Tennesseans] don’t want to see the radical agenda that is being pushed through.”

The Jobs Con

In 2010, Republicans campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Less than one year later, the majority party buried its head in the sand and ignored the crisis facing 300,000 Tennesseans looking for work.

Since Republicans took charge, Tennessee’s unemployment rate has climbed to nearly 10 percent — even while across the nation, the jobs picture in 47 states has stabilized or improved. [Bloomberg, 5/20/11]

The response? Republicans systematically killed a dozen Democrat-sponsored jobs bills aimed at boosting the economy, including a popular sales tax holiday for small business purchases.

Then Governor Bill Haslam and Republicans slashed funding and fired 60 business recruiters at the Department of Economic & Community Development — the organization that lured international corporations like Volkswagen, Nissan, Amazon.com, and Hemlock to Tennessee, securing more than 200,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic investment.

And even further, Republicans endangered 3,900 new jobs and potentially two more Amazon.com distribution centers by threatening to renege on agreements made between the state and Amazon.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“Legislators passed not a single bill that would improve job creation or put people back to work… The notion that lawmakers could leave Nashville celebrating such reversals and derogation of the needs of ordinary working people across the state is stunning. The only reason we can be glad that lawmakers finished the session is that it prevents them from wreaking more damage.”

Damage, indeed. Here is what happened:

ATTACKS ON TEACHERS & PUBLIC EDUCATION: The attacks on teachers and public education defined the Republicans first legislative session in power of both state houses.

“Last year we had Race to the Top. This year we have dive to the bottom.” – Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga

The session’s most contentious legislation was the Republican-led effort to repeal the collective bargaining rights of public school teachers. Teachers rallied by the thousands against measures that unfairly targeted them and the millions worth of spending cuts to public schools.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said the changes would be damaging for Tennessee students:

“Republicans have taken away the job security of our veteran teachers, stripped their ability to negotiate for things like text books, janitorial services & basic school supplies, opened the door to for-profit charter schools and nearly ripped millions from the public school system with a voucher proposal.

“Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey & his counterparts call this reform, but our teachers & the people of Tennessee know better. This is not reform; it’s regression.”

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING BAN: Republicans repealed the Education Professional Negotiations Act ending an era of teacher solidarity, one in which the TEA had bargained with school boards across a wide range of matters in most of the state’s school districts. As a result, our teachers are angry, demoralized and tire of being blamed for the problems facing our education system.

CHARTER SCHOOLS EXPANSION: Gov. Haslam and Republicans expanded charter schools, potentially hurting our neediest children and families by draining traditional public schools of top performers and resources.

VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: Virtual schools, online education run by for profit corporations that  poach millions of tax dollars from public schools. Online schools could be gateway to school vouchers.  Rep. Mike Stewart said it sets “a dangerous precedent” and  will lead to public school money being siphoned off by private for-profit corporations.

CAPS ON HOPE SCHOLARSHIP HOURS: With the cost of tuition increasing at Tennessee colleges and universities, the legislature decided to cut funding for student scholarships. The cap on the 120 hours paid for by the lottery scholarship has students and parents worried about how to pay for degrees that go over the limit.

LAVISH RAISES. Gov. Bill Haslam made cuts to important health programs while handing out more than $250,000 worth of raises to his top cronies, all of whom already made six-figure salaries. One commissioner even got a 32% raise — in his first week on the job!

LT. GOV. RAMSEY GAVE SECRET PAY RAISES TO STAFFERS, TOO: Not to be outdone by Gov. Haslam, Channel 4 News discovered that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey approved pay increases for 18 senate staffers at the same time salaries were frozen for the other 42,825 state employees.

Channel 4 News: They just got it because Ramsey felt they deserved it. “There’s nothing wrong with that — nothing,” said Ramsey. [Channel 4 News,5/23/11]

WINED & DINED BY LOBBYISTS AT $500,000 WORTH OF PARTIES: Special interest groups spent at least $519,000 this year wining and dining state lawmakers. Last year, even though the legislative session was longer, only $390,000 was spent.

The view of Sen. Andy Berke:

“Special interests play an outsized role in our government and especially in our legislature… It’s difficult not to look at what goes on in the legislature and worry about the individual citizen having his proper say, also.”

TRIED TO CUT TAXES FOR WEALTHY FRIENDS: Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey filed a bill that would have gave his millionaire friend and campaign donor a $270,000 property tax break on high-end real estate in Rutherford County. [The Daily News Journal, 4/10/2011]

USED TAX DOLLARS TO BUILD ROADS FOR SPECIAL FRIENDS: Days into office, Gov. Haslam brokered a backroom deal to have the Tennessee Department of Transportation build a private road to a well-heeled Republican business owner. Seeing it as a waste of taxpayer money to build a road for the benefit of a single business, Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen refused to pay for the road for six years. [KnoxNews.com, 4/3/11]

PROTECTED PREJUDICE: The GOP gave into the radical right-wing of its party, bowing to demands to overturn Metro-Nashville Council’s CANDO ordinance that required businesses with city contracts to employ non-discrimination hiring policies. Major businesses, such as Nissan and FedEx, criticized Republicans for their overreach, stating that their companies are committed to equal rights and protections for all Tennesseans. Furthermore, the Senate passed Stacey Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill which, as originally introduced, would make it illegal for teachers to even mention homosexuality before the 9th grade, even if to address bullying at the school. [WPLN, 5/24/11]

ATTACKS ON VICTIMS: By setting an arbitrary cap on the damages a citizen jury can award, Republicans put a price of $29 a day on the lives of victims who suffer horrific injuries at the hands of reckless corporations or medical malpractice.

Tennesseans are not interested in protecting reckless corporations from the damage they do, they want to protect the rights of victims and hold corporations responsible for their actions.

Caps on jury awards was Haslam’s pet project — perhaps because his multi-million dollar business is tied up in a lawsuit stemming from a citizen being killed at a Pilot gas station owned by the governor. [WSMV.com, 3/2/11]

ATTACKS ON WOMEN’S PRIVACY: If the constitutional amendment Senate Joint Resolution 127 is approved by voter referendum in 2014, Tennessee’s constitution would no longer protect a woman’s right to an abortion — even in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

ATTACKS ON WOMEN’S HEALTH: In a partisan witch hunt Republicans defunded Planned Parenthood in Tennessee. The callous decision will cut more than $1 million worth of funding that provides medical exams, cancer screenings, tests and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, family planning, counseling and birth-control services for more than 5,000 residents every year.

ATTACKS ON THE OUTDOORS: Republicans killed common-sense legislation that would outlaw the destructive practice of mountaintop removal in Tennessee and preserve our scenic vistas, the water we drink, and the air we breath for generations to come.

ATTACKS ON RELIGION: In an affront to the American principal of religious tolerance, Sen. Bill Ketron’s “anti-terrorism bill,” originally outlawed some practices of Islam and sparked demonstrations by Tennessee Muslims. The bill was amended twice — once to delete any references to religion and then again to merely restate what’s already in federal law.

ATTACKS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT: In a move that would seem to contradict their constant calls for limited government, Republicans expanded government control over cities by blocking the Memphis City Schools-Shelby County Schools merger that was passed overwhelmingly by a voter referendum and overturned Metro-Nashville Council’s CANDO ordinance that required businesses with city contracts to employ non-discrimination hiring policies.

ATTACKS ON ACCOUNTABLE ELECTIONS: House Bill 386 gutted the Voter Confidence Act, a law that was passed with broad bipartisan support to protect the integrity of our electoral process. The Voter Confidence Act made it mandatory for county election commissions to use voting machines that produce a verifiable paper trail in case of a recount.

ATTACKS ON FREE ELECTIONS: Republicans reduced the number of days in early voting and passed a photo ID requirement that has been called an unconstitutional “poll tax.” The photo ID requirement will make it harder for seniors, students and those who don’t drive to exercise their voting right.

ATTACKS ON FAIR ELECTIONS: On the same day the Senate passed a bill to allow corporations to donate to individual candidates, it banned the Tennessee Education Association from collecting political dues. Corporations were given more of a voice while teachers were silenced. Loud and clear, Republicans said: “Corporations deserve a bigger say in Tennessee elections than people.” Tennessee will now have contribution limits among the highest of any state.

NEXT YEAR

Haslam and Republican leaders have nearly eight months until the 107th General Assembly reconvenes in January to conspire new ways to put special interests before the interest of Tennesseans.

Rep. Mike Stewart on the upcoming legislative session in 2012:

“A lot of this stuff was just pushed off to next year. There’s no chance that we won’t be back arguing about guns on college campuses, anti-union measures again next year.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey confirmed our worst fears:

“Tennessee Republicans have talked a lot about what we would do when we took power. Now we are showing what we can do. This year was just an appetizer. Next year, and in the years to come, you will see the main course.”

RADICAL LEGISLATION YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE IN 2012

CLASS SIZE INCREASES: Governor Haslam is already on the record of saying he is in favor of lifting the cap on class sizes. To handle more students, all you need is a “great teacher,” Haslam says. As if Tennessee didn’t already have great teachers.

PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS: Sen. Brian Kelsey sponsored a bill that failed this year to allow taxpayer money to be spent on private schools (including parochial schools), poaching money away from students in public schools.

GUNS ON CAMPUSES: A bill uniformly opposed by ALL Tennessee universities and university police departments would allow guns to be carried on campuses, potentially putting students at risk.

ARIZONA STYLE IMMIGRATION LAWS: We will likely see a new version of House Bill 1380, which was inspired by the controversial Arizona law. The law would give state and local law enforcement officers unprecedented authority over our civil rights by allowing an officer to make a determination if you look like an American. The Arizona law has brought on expensive legal battles and cost the state millions of dollars worth of lost tourism.

A TAKE OVER OF MEDICARE: The state Senate voted recently to take the first step toward ending Medicare as we know it in Tennessee by calling for a radical plan called a “health-care compact.” Such a plan would handover Medicare to the state, potentially leading to thousands of seniors losing benefits, being denied coverage, or simply falling through the cracks.

Haslam Signed Law That Places Price on Life

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
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Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law today his pet project to take away a jury's power in cases where citizens are harmed by businesses. He says it will create jobs. We're keeping track.

The Republican-dominated legislature passed and Gov. Bill Haslam signed into a law a measure that caps damages awarded to victims of horrific accidents, medical malpractice and other life-changing injuries. Mr. Haslam said perverting the justice system would “create jobs” — we’re holding him to it. 

Republicans said their plan to protect insurance companies profits and reckless corporations will increase business prospects in Tennessee, despite the fact that after eight years of Democratic leadership, Tennessee is already continually ranked one of the best states to do business.

An Associated Press story noted that last year in Tennessee, only 14 trials exceeded the proposed caps, meaning there would be no radical change to the state’s job creation climate, as supporters claim. There is no evidence that Tennessee juries have been tossing about outrageous awards, however, or that businesses were afraid to move here because of it.

So instead, Republicans put a price on life. $29 a day for the lifetime of a 20-year-old girl who had suffered just such an injury, Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron pointed out.

“Today state lawmakers put a price on the life of our children. They put a price on the life of our parents and grandparents. They put a price on the life of the weak, the paralyzed, the neglected — all under the guise of economic development,” Senator Eric Stewart of Belvidere said.

FACTS:

Caps on jury awards was Haslam’s pet project, perhaps because his multi-million dollar business is tied up in a lawsuit stemming from a citizen being killed at a Pilot gas station owned by the governor. [WSMV.com, 3/2/11]

Under Haslam leadership, the unemployment rate jumped in June for a third straight month. [wrcbtv.com, 6/16/11]