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TNGOP: Jeb Bush Headlining 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; February 19, 2015:

U.S. Rep. Diane Black to serve as Event Chairman; Statesmen’s is “the perfect forum to come and deliver an optimistic, dynamic case for conservatism”

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—2016 is here.

In the latest sign that the 2016 presidential race is heating up, the Tennessee Republican Party today announced that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will headline the Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville — the largest annual gathering of Republicans in Tennessee. Gov. Bush, who announced recently he was actively exploring a run for the White House in 2016, joins an impressive list of leaders who have spoken at the dinner.

“As an early primary state, Tennessee in an important place in Republican politics. This is the perfect forum to come and deliver an optimistic, dynamic case for conservatism. We need a bold reformer leading our nation. As Florida’s Governor and as a public servant, that’s exactly the reputation Gov. Bush has built. We look forward to welcoming Jeb Bush to Nashville,” said TNGOP ChairmanChris Devaney.

Devaney also announced that Congressman Diane Black (TN-06) will serve as the 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner Chair. Cong. Black will play an instrumental role in the dinner, which is the TNGOP’s largest yearly fundraising event.

“Cong. Black is the perfect chair for this important occasion. She has quickly become known as a conservative solutions-seeker both in Washington and here at home. In fact, this event will showcase how Tennessee is leading our country with bold ideas, effective leadership, and a conservative philosophy,” he noted.

Congressman Black stated, “Each year, the Statesmen’s Dinner offers a chance to recognize our dedicated Republican activists here at home and listen to some of the brightest minds in the conservative movement from across the country. I am honored to lead the effort to once again make this Tennessee’s premier political event of the year.”

The 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner will take place on Saturday, May 30th in Nashville. Tickets may be purchased by going to www.statesmensdinner.com or calling Taylor Ferrell at 615.269.4260.

About Governor Bush

Jeb Bush served as the 43rd Governor of the State of Florida from 1999-2007. During his tenure, he remained true to his conservative principles—cutting nearly $20 billion in taxes, vetoing more than $2.3 billion in earmarks, and reducing the state government workforce by more than 13,000. His limited government approach helped unleash one of the most robust and dynamic economies in the nation, creating 1.4 million net new jobs and improving the state’s credit ratings.

Background

  • Last year, the TNGOP Statesmen’s Dinner featured New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and he helped the Party raise record breaking contribution numbers.
  • Coverage of the 2014 Statesmen’s Dinner can be found here and here.
  • Past Statesmen’s speakers include: Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney, former President George W. Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and US. Senator Tim Scott.
  • The 2015 Statesmen’s Dinner announcement is the first of several upcoming events that will feature prominent potential Republican presidential candidates who are coming to Tennessee at the invitation of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Bredesen Busy Traveling, Lecturing, Promoting Health Policy Book

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen remains zip-lippped about what’s in the state’s deal with Amazon.com, although he has plenty to say about what he’s been doing since leaving office, which is traveling the country making speeches, mostly about health care.

“I’m not retired. I’m not vegetating,” Bredesen said. “I’m very active and trying to figure out how I can best use the next few years.”

Bredesen was at a campaign event Saturday in support of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who is running for re-election.

Nashville is still home base for Bredesen, but since leaving office in January he has traveled to various locations, from Chicago to Florida to the West Coast, to speak. He has primarily talked about health care, including one joint appearance with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but he has also spoken on the state’s experience recruiting international businesses like Volkswagen and Wacker Chemie.

One domestic business recruitment with Bredesen’s brand on it, however, remains a point of controversy in the state. Amazon is building two large distribution centers in and near Chattanooga. The Internet sales giant is making a $139 billion investment, offering 1,400 jobs and comes in with the agreement that it will operate without collecting sales taxes as a retail outlet would.

A couple of key lawmakers have cried foul, presenting legislation to force Amazon to collect the tax, but that effort has met resistance and even a threat from Amazon that it might pull out if forced to collect. Lawmakers have even asked the state’s attorney general to weigh in on their effort. The bill has been deferred to 2012.

Among lawmakers’ questions have been to what degree the agreement with Amazon has even been in writing.

“I’m just not commenting on stuff that’s going on like that right now,” Bredesen said. “We had an understanding with Amazon, and it was really Matt Kisber (former commissioner of Economic and Community Development) who did all the detail work on the thing.

“I think it was the right decision. I think the current governor thinks it was the right decision to get them here. I think they will be an important piece of the economy.”

The Bredesen administration made the deal after Bill Haslam was elected governor in November but before Bredesen left office. The most widely reported explanation for the arrangement has been that Bredesen told Haslam the state could either grant Amazon the ability to avoid collecting the tax or see the company go a few miles down the road and build its facility in Georgia. The same issue has played out in other states. Bredesen wanted the jobs in Tennessee, and Haslam has publicly said the state will honor the commitment.

Bredesen said there were compelling reasons for striking such a deal.

“Part of what appealed to me about Amazon was I worked real hard to get some of the knowledge-based jobs that require a college education, where you’ve got good salaries and so on,” Bredesen said. “A lot of the Amazon jobs are a little different from that. They’re working in a warehouse. We need those jobs, too.

“There are a lot of people in this state who just need a job with a good company with good benefits, and they’re not going to go back to college to do it.”

When asked last week where the attorney general is on the Amazon issue, Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for Attorney General Robert Cooper, said, “We’re working on it,” but she offered no elaboration on a potential opinion or when it might come.

Bredesen said getting a well-respected company like Amazon to build in Tennessee at a time when jobs are hard to come by seemed like the right deal to make. He was asked about the precedent, however, of setting up that arrangement, since Amazon is already making overtures of building even more distribution centers in Nashville or Knoxville.

“I think the governor has got to figure that out,” Bredesen said. “But in the scheme of things, if an Amazon were to be located here, ultimately these tax issues are going to be solved by the Congress.”

Haslam has also said no single state should have to work out the issue of collecting sales taxes on online sales. The issue is complex. Amazon is based in Seattle. Company officials point to the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution and say the existence of a “fulfillment center,” as Amazon is building, does not create substantial presence, known as nexus, to qualify as a point of sale.

“The two facilities happened on my watch, I think we made the right decision, I think the governor has backed that up, and how he treats the next two or three is up to Gov. Haslam,” Bredesen said.

As for the former governor’s travels, they’re the kind of speaking engagements one would normally expect after the publication last year of Bredesen’s book, Fresh Medicine — How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System.

“I had a lot of requests to do that after the book came out in the fall, and you really can’t do it as a sitting governor,” Bredesen said. “You can’t take off and go to California for a few days and give speeches.”

He said the topic in such settings is beginning to move more toward the future of the health care system, rather than just reaction to the health care reform law. Bredesen’s book is due for a paperback version this fall.

“I’m up to my eyebrows in health care,” Bredesen said.

The event with Jeb Bush was a health care discussion held by the venture capital group Health Evolution Partners, where they had a “D” and “R” program, with Bredesen the “D” as a Democrat and Bush the “R” as a Republican.

Bredesen said he has put the notion of trying to serve at the federal level on health care policy on the shelf, adding that when it came up it was probably given more attention than it deserved. He also said Saturday he has no intention of running for the Senate. Bredesen was at one time considered a candidate to be President Barack Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services, which ultimately went to Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas.

So for now, Bredesen is doing the speech-making tour and deciding what’s next. Bredesen was mayor of Nashville for two terms from 1991-99 and governor for two terms from 2003-2011.

“When I left the mayor’s office, after I left on Saturday, on Monday morning I was setting up my desk in a new office,” he said. “I’ve said this time, don’t do that, when you’ve got one more good career in you. Get a little space. Get some of these speeches done you wanted to do. Do a little writing, and let things gel a little bit.”

Bredesen said former first lady Andrea Conte now “enjoys being out of the line of fire,” and she’s doing a lot of the same things as her husband is.

“She’s been out and active and around doing different things, giving talks to different groups. She is spending serious time in the garden, and we’re having a great time right now,” said former governor Bredesen.

Mike Morrow is a correspondent for TNReport.com, a not-for-profit news organization supported by donors like you.

Study: Florida Education Progress Proves Tennessee Can Do Better

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research and the Foundation for Educational Choice, Feb. 9, 2011:

NASHVILLE, TN – Tennessee K-12 education has experienced a “lost decade”, while by comparison, a decade of revolutionary reforms has led to extraordinary K-12 achievement gains in Florida, according to a new study released today by the Indianapolis-based Foundation for Educational Choice and the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “Lessons for Tennessee from Florida’s Education Revolution” is a primer for state leaders who want to improve education results, better serve families, and close the academic achievement gap.

The study compares critical fourth-grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It found that Florida’s students, who ranked behind Tennessee in 1998, gained 20 points – the equivalent of two grade levels – to best Tennessee’s scores by nine points. Key among the study’s findings is that Florida’s Hispanic students on average are outperforming the statewide average of all Tennessee students on that test.

“Through its revolutionary, yet common-sense reforms, Florida has created a path to improvement that can work in Tennessee,” said Dr. Matthew Ladner, the study’s author, who noted that fourth-grade reading results are a reliable, commonly accepted predictor of students’ future academic trajectory. “Florida established high standards, implemented innovative testing, ended social promotion of illiterate students, rewarded effective teachers, and increased parental choice in schooling. Tennessee has done none of these, a fact that is sadly reflected in the state’s academic performance.”

In his research, Dr. Ladner found that Florida’s Hispanic students outperform or tie the statewide average of all students in 30 states, including Tennessee.

“This study and the state of Florida prove that it’s time to enact the reforms necessary to equip our children to succeed,” said Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a free market think tank in Nashville. “Florida’s example shows that remarkable gains across demographic and economic lines are possible when policies are in place that empower parents and teachers and hold schools accountable.”

In addition to gains by the state’s Hispanic students, the academic growth of Florida’s African American students is equally impressive. Over the past decade, African American students in Florida, on average, realized a 25-point gain in reading achievement, whereas African American students in Tennessee progressed by only four points. Moreover, Florida’s low-income students gained an astounding 27 points (equivalent to nearly three grade levels) to tie with the statewide average of all Tennessee students.

“This study is more proof of what we’re seeing across the nation,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “When true reform occurs and parents are given the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their children, students are able to break through every barrier and truly excel. The real question is whether the adults making the decisions impacting Tennessee schools have the courage to do what’s right for the kids trapped in stagnant schools.”

About the Foundation for Educational Choice

The Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. First established as the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in 1996, the foundation continues to promote school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America. The foundation is dedicated to research, education, and outreach on the vital issues and implications related to choice and competition in K-12 education.

About the Tennessee Center for Policy Research

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan research organization that provides solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. The Center is committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.

About Dr. Matthew Ladner

Dr. Ladner is a Senior Fellow with The Foundation for Educational Choice. He is Vice President of Research for the Goldwater Institute and coauthor of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform.

Visit www.EdChoice.org/TNvsFL to read the full study.