This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Hall, estate taxes ‘chase away capital’ but revenue needed Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t plan to eliminate Tennessee’s estate tax and Hall income tax despite efforts by several Republican lawmakers to kill the measures because they believe they’re hurting the state’s economic development. The Republican governor told The Associated Press that both taxes are bad for the long term because they “chase capital away from the state.”
Tennessee sales tax collections were up 5.2 percent in November, and the state’s general fund revenues have exceeded expectations by $69 million since the beginning of the budget year. Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes stressed Friday that the sales tax collections reflect economic activity in October, meaning the state will have to wait to see the results of the post-Thanksgiving sales until next month.
State government’s finance officials aren’t saying Tennessee is out of the woods yet, but they announced Friday that the state’s tax revenues are growing at a healthy clip. Overall revenue collections through the first four months, or one-third, of the fiscal year are $71 million more than was projected when the state legislature approved the Fiscal Year 2011-12 state budget in May.
It’s no YMCA and a far cry from a daycare. Taft Youth Development Center in Bledsoe County houses about 100 of the state’s hardest juvenile cases, something it’s done for more than nine decades. But with Gov. Bill Haslam’s call for 5 percent reductions in departmental budgets, Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day has proposed closing Taft and transferring those 16- to 19-year-old students to one of the other four youth centers scattered across the state.
State economists think Tennessee’s tax revenues will keep growing over the next year, albeit slower than in the last few months. Meanwhile they don’t see the high unemployment rate coming down anytime soon.
The head of the Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business expressed concern Thursday regarding the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s processing of unemployment benefits. “We’re concerned with how the administrative process for unemployment is working, namely inconsistency among hearing officers and approvals of certain claims where theft or chronic absenteeism has been proven,” said Jim Brown, NFIB executive director.
State Comptroller Justin Wilson is calling for an overhaul of Tennessee’s school funding formula because he believes it is overly complex and lacks safeguards against errors in distributing state money. “It certainly should be transparent, it certainly should be verifiable, and it certainly should be understandable,” Wilson said Friday. “And it’s none of those three.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has increased its winter weather budget by nearly $1 million to $15.5 million. TDOT said in a news release Friday it has more than 191,000 tons of salt and more than 1.6 million gallons of salt brine ready for use.
The votes have been tallied, and Tennessee has its newest license plate. Nashville artist Leslie Haines designed the winning plate in the State Your Plate contest.
Human trafficking is not an unfamiliar problem in the nation or in North Georgia and Southeast Tennessee, authorities say. “We are on the corridor that traffics children and adults in the Atlanta area,” said Beverly Cosley, director of Chattanooga’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Barbara Grobicki has been on the job hunt about five months now — ever since her senior marketing position was eliminated at a local company. She’s updated her LinkedIn profile and searched Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com.
Pellissippi State Community College has released a report showing the school has pumped an average of $215.6 million annually into the Knoxville-area economy over the past five years. The school’s 24th annual analysis of the economic impact on Knox and Blount counties said the value of business volume, jobs and individual income amounted to nearly $1.1 billion in the 2006-2011 period, or an average of $215.6 million annually.
University of Memphis students who signed up for safety alerts received a rash of text-message warnings in recent weeks, but reports indicate crime in the area is actually down. The extra alerts, called TigerTexts, from Public Safety Director Bruce Harber now report crimes off campus as well as crimes on campus.
Long before the first widgets roll off the assembly line, way back before the ribbon cutting and the first shovels break ground, and even before executives quietly slip in to scout out a prospective piece of land, someone like Mark Sweeney gets a phone call. Major corporate relocations and economic development coups might seem like a happy stroke of luck for the cities and states that win them.
A new report from the Tennessee Solar Institute is making the case that there is tremendous economic opportunity for the state in the solar energy sector. But while a fast-growing industry provides opportunities, it can also stress resources.
When it comes to the solar industry, TN is nowhere the player that California and Texas are, but the state does have some 6,000 jobs in the sector. A new report gives a big picture of the state of the solar business in Tennessee.According to the Tennessee Solar Institute, there are more 200 companies in the solar trade.
Charging stations installed with a share of taxpayers’ money are twice as plentiful across Tennessee today as the number of electric cars they’re designed to refuel, and most of the units go unused for hours or days at a time. Car registration data show that 270 all-electric cars of various brands have been registered in Tennessee this year — 81 in Davidson and Williamson counties combined — but there are about 500 chargers available in public places to serve them.
Erlanger’s board of trustees is holding a special called meeting Monday to discuss departing CEO Jim Brexler’s transition package. Board Chairman Ronald Loving called the meeting on Friday.
We already know that retail groups are fuming over an Amazon promotion that lets customers get up to $5 off a purchase for using its new Price Check app to compare prices, saying it encourages consumers to use brick-and-mortar retailers as a “showroom.” But now the fallout from the app has reached Congress, where Amazon.com Inc. is already facing scrutiny over a proposed national online sales tax and questions about privacy that are dogging Amazon’s hot-selling Kindle Fire tablet.
The schools consolidation planning commission will talk Monday, Dec. 12, with the former superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system in North Carolina. Peter Gorman resigned as superintendent of the consolidated school system in August to become part of the new education division of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media company.
A meeting Monday night at the Shelbyville Central High School theater is designed to enlist local businesses in improving the county’s graduation rate. According to state report card figures released this month, Bedford County’s 2010 graduation rate was 79.3 percent, far below the state goal of 90 percent.
The 240 pint-sized, uniformed students went about business as usual at Drexel Preparatory Academy on Friday, unaware of a move by some Metro Nashville school officials to close their charter school after winter break. But the grown-ups in their lives know the school will have to prove it can manage its finances and honor its commitment to all students if it’s going to stay open.
A second privately led, publicly funded Metro charter school appears to be on the verge of closing. Drexel Preparatory Academy, an elementary charter school with 240 students, opened only four months ago, but it would shut down by the end of this semester if the Metro Nashville Board of Education approves a recommendation by the district’s charter school office.
After the Hamilton County Board of Education rejected Tommie Henderson’s application to open a business- and law-themed charter school here, the Memphis educator said he will resubmit his paperwork. Following a recommendation from district administrators, the board voted last month not to approve Henderson’s application to open the New Consortium of Law and Business for grades 6-12.
The Bradley County Board of Education endorsed three resolutions Thursday submitted from the Tennessee School Boards Association. Two of the resolutions — supporting appointed school superintendents and maintaining school boards’ ability to set their own academic calendars — passed unanimously and with little comment.
Colorado is poised to decide Tuesday whether to force energy companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, a decision freighted with additional significance after the Environmental Protection Agency this week linked the drilling technique to chemicals in drinking water near a Wyoming town. States including Texas, Wyoming and Montana already require some disclosure of chemicals used in the process, known as fracking. Other states, such as North Dakota, are considering similar measures.
The Supreme Court on Friday evening agreed to hear a tangle of lawsuits over how Texas should conduct elections for its Legislature and for Congress next year. The court stayed orders from a special three-judge court in San Antonio, which issued electoral maps late last month that seemed to help Democrats and Hispanic voters.
A headline atop a recent article in the Times Free Press told a sad story about safety in our Hamilton County schools. “Schools call for police help thousands of times a year,” the headline read. The article noted that the middle schools and high schools in our county that have a regular sheriff’s deputy present sought help from law enforcement an average of 20 times per day during the last school year.