This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Editorial: Jackson welcomes Pacific Industries (Jackson Sun)
We are excited about last week’s announcement that Pacific Industries will build a plant in Jackson-Madison County and create 190 new jobs in the next five years. To the ownership of Pacific Industries, we’d like to say: Welcome to Jackson! We are glad to have you as part of our community. Pacific’s announcement was the culmination of months of work on the part of economic developers representing Jackson and Madison County. A team consisting of Jackson city officials, Madison County officials, Jackson Energy Authority officials and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce was critical to attracting Pacific to our community.
Pacific Industries selects Madison Co. as 1st Southeast location (Biz Clarksville)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty joined with Pacific Industries officials on June 18 to announce the automotive parts manufacturer will construct and operate a new manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tennessee. Plans include the creation of 190 new jobs over the initial five years of operations and a substantial investment in connection with the development and construction of the new facility, which will primarily manufacture metal-stamping products for the automotive industry.
Hatch Stamping brings 101 new jobs to Portland (Business Clarksville)
Hatch Stamping Company officials welcomed TN Gov. Bill Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty on Thursday, June 19, as they announced the company will locate a new manufacturing facility in Portland in an effort to expand its footprint in the Southeast. The Michigan-based automotive components manufacturer will invest $17 million in an existing facility and create 101 new jobs in Robertson County, with a goal of being fully operational by January 2015. “I want to welcome Hatch Stamping Company to Tennessee and congratulate the company on its latest expansion.
June is all about home ownership (Columbia Daily Herald)
Not all news coming out of the housing market is bad, said Ralph M. Perrey of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Perrey and his partners with the THDA stopped by the Southern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors in Columbia this week to promote home ownership, especially among first-time buyers. “Not a day goes by without some story about how hard it is to get a mortgage,” he said. “Don’t assume it’s too tough to get a mortgage.” THDA announced this week Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed June as Homeownership Month for the state, and Perrey said their goal is to offer potential buyers, not just first-time owners, a chance to afford a home.
DIDD: Agency must plan to prevent abuse (Tennessean/Manskar)
A developmentally disabled woman allegedly abused by her caretaker is in the care of another service provider, and the agency that formerly supported her must now ensure such abuses don’t happen again. After employee Tito Talabi was arrested Monday on felony abuse charges, Support Solutions of the Mid-South is required to submit a plan to the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities detailing what measures it will take to “ameliorate the current issue,” discipline staff and prevent future harm, DIDD spokeswoman Cara Kumari said in an email.
State ends fiscal year with over $775,000 stolen money (Tennessean/Coker)
The amount of money stolen from Tennessee counties grew by more than $200,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a new report by the state comptroller’s office. According to State Comptroller Justin Wilson, Tennessee began the last fiscal year with $563,372.50 in unrecovered cash shortages. During the year, $449,624.04 worth of new shortages were detected. Counties throughout the state recovered $237,775.42 through restitution payments, insurance claims or other means. That left a net unrecovered shortage of $775,221.12 at the end of the fiscal year.
‘Stuck’ worker hopes to get past minimum wage (Tennessean/Cass)
One of the faces of the minimum wage debate had to take time off from her job at Wendy’s a few weeks ago to see a doctor about her swollen left foot. Francine Gentry couldn’t make up the time, so her hours, already shifting from week to week, took another hit. Gentry makes $7.70 an hour as a cashier, 45 cents more than minimum wage. She’s 47 years old, a single mother who wants to do better for herself and her teenage son but just can’t seem to get there. “It still seems like I’m stuck,” she said on a recent morning at her $240-a-month apartment off Dickerson Road. Gentry would see her take-home pay go up more than 30 percent if Congress agreed to raise the floor from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, as President Barack Obama has ordered federal contractors to do.
‘Scorecards’ rank Tennessee, Alabama worst for long-term care (TFP/Harrison)
Tennessee needs to improve its long-term care for seniors, and it needs to do it within the next 12 years, a new report indicates. By that time, the oldest members of the baby boomer generation will be turning 80. And the ratio of potential family caregivers for each person 80 years old or older will have dropped from seven to only four. As boomers age and family sizes dwindle, the AARP has sought to gauge the outlook of long-term care options state by state basis. The AARP’s scorecard takes into account reams of state and federal data, measuring everything from affordability to quality of long-term care.
East Tennesseans take time to enter ACA marketplace (News-Sentinel/Nelson)
Melissa Knight was excited about the Affordable Care Act marketplace, where previously uninsured people could purchase health insurance often with help from government subsidies. Knight, longtime director of InterFaith Health Clinic, which provides care to the uninsured, had figured just about half of the clinic’s 8,000-odd active patients would qualify for insurance, freeing up slots at the clinic to move in uninsured people from its sizable waiting list. Early on, Knight and her colleagues arranged meetings, passed out fact sheets, and brought in equipment and volunteer insurance brokers. They waited for the onslaught of enrollees. “I was told by some experts that their goal was to have one-fourth of the people who were eligible sign up,” Knight said.
Report: Charter schools don’t have higher student exits (Tennessean/Garrison)
It delivered one of the biggest blows in Nashville’s fight over charter schools — a spreadsheet compiled by Metro Nashville Public Schools that suggested a suspiciously high number of students exit charters midyear and return to traditional schools. The implication: Charters were weeding out low-performing students before end-of-year testing, improving the schools’ results. But more than one year after a debate on student attrition widened a gulf between charters and the district, a team of Vanderbilt researchers contends there is no evidence of a larger exodus of students from charters.
City schools bracing for $3M shortfall in 14-15 (Johnson City Press)
Johnson City Board of Education Chair Kathy Hall warned that the upcoming school year will be noticeably different from the last if city commissioners enact the citywide spending plan approved on the second reading Friday morning. After hours of wrangling with proposed property tax increases and program cuts Thursday night, a split vote put forth a $204 million city budget without a tax hike, but which funded only $500,000 of the $3.4 million increase requested by the schools. “My goal is always to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as we can, but we have done that now for years, there’s no way to keep these cuts away from the classroom this year,” Hall said Friday.
Columnist: Skewered by success: Kevin Huffman runs afoul of politics (Tenn)
Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman’s successful implementation of ‘Race to the Top’ reform has only incited his critics, who want him gone. Why are so many people so mad at Kevin Huffman? The anger at Gov. Bill Haslam’s commissioner of education has reached a crescendo that threatens the governor’s ability to sustain his educational reform efforts. On Thursday, a group of 15 Republican legislators sent a letter to Haslam demanding Huffman’s head. “Our trustworthiness has continued to be jeopardized on education reform,” the letter, signed by several tea party-affiliated House members and senators, including state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, a U.S. Senate candidate, and Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, who has called for Huffman’s resignation before, says.
Tom Humphrey: Political pressure creates danger of judicial bias (News-Sentinel)
Our Tennessee Constitution declares that justices of the state Supreme Court “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state” and that the “right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.” But our state legislators have decided that first quoted phrase (Article IV, Section 3) can mean that voters don’t get to elect the judges, rather that the governor appoints them and voters can decide a couple of years later if they want to keep them. And, as for the second phrase (Article I, Section 6), legislators have decided they can violate the right when it comes to a jury deciding how much maimed and disfigured people can get for pain and suffering or how big a financial punishment can be assessed against a wrongdoer person or corporation.
Editorial: Proposal to raise fuel tax tough but necessary move (News-Sentinel)
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker last week introduced a plan to raise the nation’s fuel taxes — in an election year, no less — to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund so that borrowed money would no longer be needed for road building and repair. Corker and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., announced the bipartisan effort Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Increased road construction costs and more fuel-efficient vehicles have combined to keep the fuel taxes from keeping up with expenditures on road projects. Congress has repeatedly transferred general government money into the fund to avoid raising taxes. That is unsustainable. The Corker-Murphy plan would return the federal Highway Fund to a user-supported program.