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TN Senate GOP Letter to President: Quit Trying to ‘Intimidate Opponents of Obamacare’

Letter from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; October 8, 2013:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you to express extreme displeasure in how you are overseeing the budget impasse in Congress known as the “government shutdown.”

Ostensibly, a government shutdown would revolve around saving taxpayer funds. That is not the case in this instance. In fact, your administration seems to be going to great lengths and sparing no expense to sell your particular shutdown narrative.

While the media eagerly accepts this narrative, we in public service know the truth. The IRS is still collecting taxes and the NSA is still compiling metadata. Vital services are still available and essential employees are still getting paid.

There is no government shutdown, merely a slowdown. What’s worse is that public displays of this so-called shutdown appear to be packaged for mass media consumption. Your administration seems to be in the business of selling this “shutdown” as a creation of House Republicans when it is in truth a maneuver by Senate Democrats to save the implementation of your administration’s legislative showpiece.

Witness the barricading of the World War II Memorial in Washington. This is a memorial that, while usually staffed during business hours, is open to the public 24 hours a day. The public “closing” of this memorial and keeping veterans off the grounds by threat of force was a farce. The closing of the D-Day Memorial and 24 other memorials overseas just adds insult to injury.

Tennesseans are well aware of this tactic. Over ten years ago when our state faced a budget crisis, state parks in key legislative districts were closed. This was a last ditch effort by liberals to scare Tennesseans into supporting higher taxes. The Obama administration has similarly shut down federal parks in Tennessee, in some cases blocking roads children need to take to school. This tactic was transparent then and it is transparent now.

Just like the old tax and spenders in Tennessee, the Obama administration hopes to intimidate opponents of Obamacare into capitulating and selling out their constituents – constituents who want the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.

Your administration wants us to believe we cannot reduce the budget and we must continue down the path of increasing our debt. Yet the Senate has not passed a budget in over four years and our debt as a percentage of GDP sits at nearly 73%.

We know that the people of Tennessee see through this blatant attempt to manipulate public perception. We hope the rest of the nation sees this “shutdown” not as the folly of Republican intransigence but for what it truly is: a face-saving measure by a President to ram through the implementation of unworkable legislation.

Sincerely,

The Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus

TN Gov’t Leaders Recognized Nationally with Awards, Leadership Positions

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; September 30, 2013:

Tennessee’s state government leaders have gained national acclaim recently being elected or recognized for several national leadership roles. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Treasurer David Lillard have all been elected to bi-partisan national leadership positions, while Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell recently received a prestigious award by the Women in Numbers organization.

“Tennessee has several rising stars who are now in key positions of national leadership,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station). “This is a tremendous compliment to the caliber of men and women that we have serving the citizens of this state in the Tennessee General Assembly and in our state government.”

The positions include:

  • Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey was elected to the Board of Directors of the bi-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that serves legislators and staffs nationwide with research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. Ramsey also serves on the Republican Lt. Governors Association Board (RLGA) and the Legislative Leaders Advisory Board of GOPAC.
  • Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris was elected Chairman of the non-partisan Council of State Governments (CSG) which serves all three branches of government in 50 states and Puerto Rico with international affiliates in the Provincial and Federal governments of Canada. CSG fosters and encourages intergovernmental cooperation among its member states.
  • Secretary of State Tre Hargett is President of the National Association of State Secretaries (NASS). The group, which is the oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials, serves as a medium for the exchange of information between states and fosters cooperation in the development of public policy.
  • Treasurer David Lillard was elected to the Executive Committee of the bi-partisan National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT), which is an organization for state officials who deal with the financial management of state government.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Beth Harwell was honored with a national “Trailblazer Award” by a nonpartisan group’s Tennessee chapter that encourages more women to go into politics. Harwell is the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives in Tennessee.

“Tennessee’s sound financial footing and reputation for being a well-managed state has been recognized by numerous national organizations,” added Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R- Murfreesboro). “We believe we have the finest Treasurer, Secretary of State and Comptroller with Justin Wilson in the nation. Obviously, other states’ leaders recognize this as well. Speaker Harwell, Lt. Governor Ramsey and Leader Norris have also represented Tennessee extremely well in national roles. I am very proud to work alongside them in the General Assembly.”

Summerville to File Bill to Freeze College Tuition at Current Rates

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; July 22, 2013:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), July 22, 2013 — State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) has announced plans to file legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to freeze tuition at the current rates at state colleges and universities. The announcement comes after the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) system recently adopted hikes in tuition ranging between 3 to 6 percent.

“The current increases are an outrage, especially in light of this year’s increase in appropriations to these higher education systems,” said Senator Summerville. “No other governmental department consistently raises their costs to the taxpayers at such a high rate on an annual basis.”

The General Assembly approved a budget providing a $108.6 million increase for higher education, including $65.7 million in additional funds for the Tennessee Board of Regents, $37.6 million for the University of Tennessee system and $5.2 million for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. A 2010-2011 study by the Bloomberg News College Board found that 56 percent of public four-year college students average $23,800 in student loans upon graduation.

“Over the past decade, tuition at public colleges and universities has increased by an astounding 62 percent,” added Summerville. “These ever-increasing costs lead students to take out more loans, thus saddling themselves with debt that can take almost a lifetime to pay back.”

Summerville said his legislation, the “Tennessee College Students’ Tuition Relief Act,” is currently in the drafting stage but will freeze tuition for several years. He said bill will include cost reduction recommendations to help the state’s higher education system realize efficiencies. This could include top-heavy administrative office expenses and excessive salary packages for college coaches.

“Non-instructional cost is a good place to start in looking for savings,” added Summerville. “If we are going to meet our goals of raising our college graduation rates, we must get a handle on the rising costs. This legislation is a big step in the right direction to accomplish this.”