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Ramsey Now Open to Granting Williams’ Fish Wish

If state revenues perk up by the next legislative session, the lieutenant governor says he’ll fully support the Carter County hatchery project, which was formerly referred to as an obvious example of “pork” by GOP lawmakers.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he is on board with a plan to build a $16.9 million fish hatchery in upper East Tennessee, a project that just a few months ago he said was perceived by voters and GOP lawmakers as “purely pork.”

He approved a motion to move forward with more than a quarter million dollars worth of planning for the project at a State Building Commission meeting in Nashville Thursday, later telling reporters he always supported the fish hatchery but just didn’t think last spring was the right time to fund it.

“It was just getting the cart before the horse from the very beginning,” Ramsey said. “That’s what I’ve argued from the very beginning. I’ve never, ever said I was against the project. Ever.”

If state revenues perk up by the next legislative session, Ramsey said he’d support adding the remaining costs of the fish hatchery to the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget.

The hatchery drew controversy earlier this year during contentious state budget negotiations.

House Speaker Kent Williams pushed for funding the facility, to be located in his hometown of Elizabethton. Senate Republicans and Ramsey stood firmly against the project. “Fish,” GOP lawmakers became fond of saying, “is the new pork.”

At the time, Ramsey denied speculation that his opposition to the hatchery was a move to punish the Republican-turned-independent Williams for voting with Democrats in 2009’s infamous House Speaker election in which Williams edged out GOP-favorite Jason Mumpower.

Rather, Ramsey said the project was simply an unacceptable example of out-of-control government spending.

“This is a symbol of running things the Tennessee way, not the Washington way,” Ramsey said at the time.

He made the comments in May as the legislature scrambled to wrap up the year’s legislative session in time for campaign season. Earlier this month, Ramsey lost in the primary election to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. However, he still holds the top leadership position in the Senate.

The State Building Commission, which includes both Ramsey and Williams, authorized the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to move forward with $290,000 worth of pre-planning work on the hatchery. Blueprints for the facility will be ready by January, according to Dwight Hensley, TWRA Chief of Engineering and Real Estate.

2 replies on “Ramsey Now Open to Granting Williams’ Fish Wish”

Flippity-floppity…is Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey still wearing those cowboy boots?

The Republican opposition to the proposed construction of a TWRA cold-water trout hatchery in Elizabethton was kicked-off by the Ramsey-Gregory-Altace machine as political payback against Kent Williams for both 1) snatching the office of TNGA House Speaker away from Rep. Jason Mumpower and for 2) twice-defeating the Gregory approved, former Carter County Rep. Jerome Cochran during two previous GOP primary elections for the Carter County House Seat:


Ramsey Walks from Budget Negotiations Since Dems Won’t Relinquish Their Pork
Friday, May 28, 2010

House-Senate budget deadlock heats up (Knoxville News Sentinel)
Further attempts toward resolving dispute postponed

“…House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said the attitude of Senate Republicans, joined by some Republicans in the House, is “political payback” aimed at Williams, who last year joined with 49 House Democrats to elect himself speaker.

“They’re using the fish hatchery because they think they can gain political points on that,” Turner said. “Ramsey is driving this machine.”

Turner said the Senate plan “is the most political budget I’ve ever seen,” making unnecessary cuts in addition to $1.1 billion in cuts already made last year and incorporated into the next year plan.”


June 13, 2010
E-mails on fish hatchery don’t back Ramsey claim
Count shows pros, cons even

By Erik Schelzig

“Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters toward the end of the legislative session that e-mails from constituents supported Republican senators’ opposition to a fish hatchery project in northeast Tennessee.

An Associated Press records request filed the day after the legislature adjourned Thursday shows that GOP senators received just 16 e-mails about the $16 million fish hatchery, and that they were evenly split on the project.

Ramsey’s spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment.

An impasse in budget negotiations ended only after independent House Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton agreed to drop his demand for funding the fish hatchery in Carter County.

Ramsey, who lives in neighboring Sullivan County, last year voted for the design of the hatchery. This year he called the project “purely pork barrel spending.”

Ramsey, who is running for governor this year, said at a news conference on May 25 that the issue was one “that our members are getting e-mails on, that say please don’t fund a fish hatchery when you’re cutting mental health.”

The e-mails favoring the project were mostly sent to Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, whose district includes Carter County…”


TN Candidate Interviews – Glen Casada – Tea Party HD

Rep. Casada reveals permanent GOPer opposition to Elizabethton hatchery | Tea Party HD

TNGA Rep. Glen Casada reveals position that with an increase of Republican majority numbers within the Tennessee House of Representatives that permanent opposition to the construction of the proposed TWRA Elizabethton fish hatchery will be “a done deal”. (Casada suggesting that TNGA House Republicans will never fund the construction of the Elizabethton fish hatchery).


“Team Ron Ramsey Blog
The State Building Commission Does Its Job”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Since being elected Chairman of the State Building Commission (SBC) earlier this year, my primary goal has been to take a careful and detailed look at any matters that come before the Commission…

The SBC has come a long way. Before the GOP became the majority on the Commission, I was the only Republican member. I cast the lone “no” vote against the multi-million dollar bunker built in front of the governor’s mansion. Now that I am Chairman, I will ensure that the taxpayers of Tennessee are in fact getting a good deal before we approve any project.”

(During 2009, State Building Commission Chairman and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey approved $800,000 in actual state tax dollars spent on the TWRA Elizabethton cold-water trout hatchery project – the proposed TWRA Elizabethton trout hatchery must have been a really good deal!)


Rivals spar over Carter fish hatchery plan
By John Thompson
Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — Some of the first punches were traded in Round 3 of the the political battle between Speaker of the House Kent Williams and his challenger, former State Rep. Jerome Cochran.

The rematch is not official unless Cochran defeats Priscilla G. Steele in the Aug. 5 Republican Primary, but Cochran began the attack shortly after midnight Monday with a news release in which he announced he was opposed to funding $16 million in next year’s budget for a new Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency fish hatchery at the end of Cherokee Park Drive.

“I believe the fish hatchery is a wonderful project but we simply cannot afford it at this time. Supporting this project is similar to a family that can’t afford its mortgage going out and buying a new car,” Cochran said in his release.

“During a difficult budget year when the state legislature has cut salaries for teachers and state employees, the fish hatchery should not be a top priority,” Cochran said in his release.

Williams responded strongly when he learned of Cochran’s statement.

“Jerome Cochran has no idea of what is in the budget, he hasn’t been in Nashville in four years and he really didn’t know the budget when he was here,” Williams said, adding that Cochran’s statements about cuts in teacher pay were not true.

Cochran responded to Williams by saying it demonstrated “an arrogance of power.” He said “you don’t have to be in Nashville to see what tax increases are doing to families and small businesses.”

“The money for the fish hatchery is not coming from state funds,” Williams said. “It looks like we are going to get $341 million in federal stimulus money. That is money that has to be spent. You can’t put it in a rainy day fund, it is going to be spent. It is going to be spent all over the state, why not spend a little of it in Carter County?” Williams said.

Cochran said he had not been aware that the $16 million for the project was coming from federal money, but he said with a trillion-dollar deficit, he believed spending federal borrowed funds was even more of a bad idea.

“That doesn’t change things, it is still more wasteful spending, whether it is coming from D.C. or from Nashville, it is still irresponsible,” Cochran said.

Williams said there was noting irresponsible about the fish hatchery. It is a project the TWRA has been working on for nearly a decade and he said it should have been accomplished when Cochran was representing the district.

“He says this is not the time to build it, but it has never been the right time for the past 100 years in Nashville for any project for Carter County or Johnson County or Unicoi County or Washington County,” Williams said.

Williams said he was elected to get things done for his district and he is doing that…

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