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Garth Brooks Flood-Relief Concert Set for Dec. 17 at Bridgestone Arena

State of Tennessee Press Release, Oct. 28, 2010;

Country Star To Perform In Nashville For First Time Since 1998; Concert Will Benefit Victims Of The Tennessee Floods

NASHVILLE, October 28, 2010 – For the first time since 1998, Garth Brooks is returning to Nashville to perform Friday, December 17th, 7:00 PM at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, benefiting The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in support of all those affected by the disastrous flooding this past spring.

Garth Brooks had this to say, “I have watched with great pride how the volunteer state has pulled together to rise above the damage suffered by the floods. It was a small church sign in Hendersonville that changed my life decades ago when I read, ‘Character is not created in crisis…it is revealed.’ Tennessee has shown amazing character through all of this and it is an honor to get to be a part of the healing process.”

The tickets will be $25 plus handling with the hope that even those who suffered might be able to attend. 100% of the $25.00 ticket will go to those in need. “There will be only one arena show we’ll do this year and it will be in Nashville,” said Brooks. Further ticketing and concert information will be released at 12 noon central time, Wednesday, November 3rd.

Garth Brooks added, “Nashville is what young people dream of. As Miss Ellen said: disaster is only a disaster until the next one comes along. If you come to Vegas you’ll see Garth Brooks and a guitar. If you come to Nashville you’ll see the band and me as you know us with the lighting and sound that you know. We are following in the footsteps of who already set the example. We are all Tennesseans helping Tennessee.”

The announcement was made Thursday morning from the State Capitol Building, with

the attendance and support of Governor Phil Bredesen, Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Bob Corker, Congressman Jim Cooper, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Mayor Karl Dean and Ellen Lehman, President of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“The impact of May’s flooding is still being felt in Tennessee as communities continue to rebuild,” said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. “I’m extremely pleased to see that the great outpouring of support for flood victims that was a hallmark of the early response continues, and I appreciate the leadership of all the members of Nashville’s music family who, like Garth, have organized events or established funds to help Tennesseans rebuild their lives.”

“Many Tennesseans are still recovering from the biggest natural disaster since the president took office — floods that left 47 Tennessee counties declared disaster areas. The flooding didn’t get much national attention, in part because Tennesseans started cleaning up and helping each other instead of looting and complaining,” Senator Lamar Alexander said. “I thank Garth for bringing Tennesseans together through his music and I know the proceeds from the concert, which he is generously contributing to the cleanup, will be put to good use helping people put their lives back together.”

“Because of the extraordinary compassion and commitment of our people, six months after the flood, Tennessee has made great progress—but the work is not done. I thank Garth for bringing his talents and energy to this cause. Music can be a powerful tool for good, and I hope the awareness and money this concert raises will help affected Tennesseans continue to recover and rebuild their lives and communities,” said U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

“I have been so proud of the way our community has responded to this disaster but we can’t forget that a lot of families are still recovering,” said Congressman Jim Cooper. “Garth Brooks’ dedication to the long term flood recovery continues to show that the volunteer spirit in Music City is stronger than ever.”

“Our salvation from the spring floods was the abundance of talented, resourceful, and compassionate Tennesseans. Garth is certainly one of those talented, compassionate, and generous. I am happy to join the Davidson County delegation in thanking him for his efforts,” said Congressman Marsha Blackburn.

“The generous spirit of the music industry has been a tremendous help in Nashville’s recovery, not only through direct financial support of telethons and concerts, but also by showing the world that we’re still Music City and that we’re open for business,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “I appreciate Garth for using his talent and resources to bring attention to the ongoing needs of our community and state as we work hard to recover, and for holding an event that will draw visitors from around the country to come experience all that Nashville has to offer.”

“For a few flood victims, the journey to rebuilding their lives is complete. For most, however, the work to rebuild their lives and livelihood, their homes, and their broken hearts continues and will continue for months if not years,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. “We, as The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, remain grateful for and humbled by every gift we’ve received for flood relief. Garth Brooks’ donation of what may well be a once in a lifetime event will have enormous impact on the ongoing work of recovery and we are grateful.”

About Garth Brooks

Certified by the RIAA as the #1 selling solo artist in US history, Garth Brooks has sold in excess of 128 million albums. He is the only solo artist in RIAA history to have 6 albums top the 10 million mark. In 2007 Garth became the first artist to put out a simultaneous edition of his latest collection for a charitable cause. The “pink edition” of The Ultimate Hits was and is available only at the Susan G Komen website. His body of work – including the groundbreaking No Fences, Ropin’ The Wind, The Hits, and Double Live – propelled country music as a genre to the front pages of newspapers worldwide and the covers of magazines, to the point where Forbes declared on its cover, “Country Conquers Rock” and featured Garth in a major music piece. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Garth Brooks is the top-selling solo artist of the 20th century.

The key to his record-setting success lies within the personality and talent of Garth Brooks. It has been said that through the 1990s, Garth’s only real competition was himself. He brought daring individualism and a love of music to the table. His wide range encompasses a variety of styles which include working class blues, honky tonk, bluegrass, and arena rock. His easy-going, approachable charisma was matched only by his fearless willingness to take chances and step outside the lines. He has had an unprecedented run so far, and opened the doors for many more country artists to follow.

Garth has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist, including: 2 Grammys, 17 American Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, 5 World Music Awards, 12 People’s Choice Awards, and 36 Billboard Music Awards. He was named Artist of the ‘90s at the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, received the Artist Achievement Award at the 1997 Billboard Music Awards, and was named Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards in 2000 and the Academy of Country Music Awards in 1999.

In the midst of one of the most successful careers in music history, Garth retired in 2001, delivered his last record for Capitol Records and moved back to Oklahoma to raise his children.. While in retirement when called upon by events greater than his own self-interest, he returned to the stage. The latest of these was when the President himself requested that Garth headline President Obama’s Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. He performed as Barack and Michelle Obama, their girls, Joe and Jill Biden and a crowd of over 300,000 lined the mall from the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the Washington Monument. It was a moment in history when all did the “wave” to Garth’s performance of “Shout” while the President sang along. Once again, Garth was called upon by the network to perform for President Obama’s very first late night TV appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay. When the Governor of California asked for Garth’s help he responded by performing five concerts in two days where proceeds from 83,000 tickets sold were donated to efforts to prevent fire catastrophes from happening again. Portions of the live concerts were shown as a TV special titled, “Garth Brooks: Live in L.A.” where viewers donated to the organization Fire Intervention Relief Effort (FIRE).

Oct. 15th, 2009 Brooks announced that he was out of retirement. “I am naturally nervous, but it feels good to be out from under the low ceiling of “retirement” I put on myself.” Brooks has entered a 5 year “relationship” with Las Vegas resort developer, Steve Wynn.

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State Blames Flood For Underperforming Revenue Collections

State of Tennessee Press Release; July 13, 2010:

NASHVILLE — Total tax collections for June were below budgeted estimates, but recorded positive growth in sales and corporate taxes. Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz today announced that overall June revenues were $1.062 billion, which is $6.2 million less than the state budgeted. June sales tax collections represent consumer spending that took place in the month of May.

“This marks the third consecutive month in which sales tax collections recorded positive growth over the same month a year ago,” Goetz said. “While the positive growth for June is small, remember that consumer spending was depressed in May as a result of the unprecedented flooding the state endured. Although we believe that Tennessee is in the early stages of economic recovery we will continue to be diligent in monitoring the state’s spending in order to keep our budget in balance on a recurring basis.”

On an accrual basis, June is the eleventh month in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The general fund was under collected by $9.3 million, and the four other funds were over collected by $3.1 million.

Sales tax collections were $16.8 million less than the estimate for June. The June growth rate was 0.73%. For eleven months revenues are under collected by $224.7 million. The year-to-date growth rate for eleven months was negative 3.01%.

Franchise and excise taxes combined were $20.9 million above the budgeted estimate of $228.9 million. The growth rate for June was 5.17%. For eleven months revenues are over collected by $75.8 million and the year-to-date growth rate was 6.55%.

Privilege tax collections were $8,000 below the June estimate. For eleven months collections are $23.8 million below the budgeted estimate.

Business tax collections were $14.4 million less than the June estimate. Year-to-date collections for eleven months are $23.0 million below the budgeted estimate.

Inheritance and estate tax collections were $3.6 million below the June estimate. For eleven months collections are $12.1 million below the budgeted estimate.

Tobacco tax collections were $3.1 million above the budgeted estimate of $25.7 million. For eleven months revenues are over collected by $6,000.

Gasoline and motor fuel collections for June increased by 5.27%. For eleven months revenues are under collected by $8.1 million.

Year-to-date collections for eleven months were $225.5 million less than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was under collected by $179.3 million and the four other funds were under collected by $46.2 million.

The budgeted revenue estimates for 2009-2010 are based on the State Funding Board’s consensus recommendation adopted by the first session of the 106th General Assembly in May of 2009, and are available on the state’s Web site at http//www.tn.gov/finance/bud/budget.html.

The State Funding board met on December 18, 2009 and adopted mid-year revised revenue ranges for 2009-2010. The revised ranges reflect growth rates ranging from negative 1.50% to negative 0.25% in total taxes, and negative 2.35% to negative 0.85% in general fund taxes. Based on the consensus recommendation, the official budgeted estimates for 2009-2010 were revised in late December.

The revised mid-year estimates are reflected on pages A-70 and A-72 in the 2010-2011 Budget Document and assume an under collection in total taxes in the amount of $161.3 million, and an under collection of $153.2 million in the general fund.

The funding board met again in March of this year and adopted final revenue ranges for 2009-2010. The board’s consensus recommendation was to recognize lower growth rates than those adopted on December 18, 2009. The revised ranges reflect growth rates ranging from negative 1.77% to negative 1.29% for total taxes, and negative 2.31% to negative 1.78% in general fund taxes.

Based upon the funding board’s March recommendation the revised estimates for 2009-2010 now assume an under collection in total taxes in the amount of $258.9 million, and an under collection of $231.0 million in general fund taxes.

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July 6 Last Day To Register As Flood Victim

State of Tennessee Press Release; June 23, 2010:

NASHVILLE – If you were flooded during the recent storms in Tennessee, don’t wait any longer to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance. July 6 is the deadline for those affected by the severe storms and flooding that struck Tennessee from April 30 to May 18.

If you have received a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), you must fill it out and return it by July 6 to be eligible for some forms of federal assistance.

You do not need to wait for an insurance settlement to apply for help.

“Time is running out. We want everyone who had damages from the recent storms and flooding to register,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia B. Szczech. “You can’t get assistance unless you take that initial step.”

SBA loans are the largest source of disaster funds to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property or for making substantial repairs or rebuilding damaged structures to their pre-disaster condition.

You can register for assistance online by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov. You can apply for assistance, ask questions or check on the status of an application by dialing FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Help in all languages is available.

FEMA and TEMA Remind Tennesseans to Use Community Facebook Page for Disaster Recovery Information

FEMA and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) want to remind everyone that there is an online hub through Facebook for collaborative information-sharing about the response and recovery from severe weather and flooding in Tennessee.

“As we work together to rebuild, Facebook is one more way to help Tennesseans find and share information to help guide them through the recovery process. It’s a platform where everyone in the community can share important information,” said Gracia B. Szczech, FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer.

This site will be available throughout the state’s long-term recovery process.

The webpage, www.facebook.com/TNDisasterInfo, hosts an online community where those affected by the Tennessee disaster and those active in the response and recovery can share information.

FEMA, TEMA, and their federal, state, local and voluntary agency partners are posting recovery tips and updates, including details on how to access disaster assistance, information about volunteer opportunities and other recovery activities.

FEMA also has predesigned widgets that are available to carry information to the public. These tools include direct links to information such as how to apply for assistance, Tennessee flood resources and more.

If you would like to put the Tennessee Flood Recovery widget on your Web site, go to http://www.fema.gov/help/widgets/ for the information your web team or webmaster needs to add it to your site.

FEMA is also providing links to disaster resources and information through Twitter. Follow the recovery at www.twitter.com/FEMARegion4.

Tennessee’s Private Sector Plays a Critical Role in Disaster Recovery

When storms and record-setting flooding struck this spring, residents readily reached out to help one another, emphasizing once again why Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State.” Along with thousands of volunteers from across the state, members of the private sector community jumped in to lend a helping hand.

With the assistance of FEMA, a major outreach initiative to the private sector was organized. Hundreds of businesses, chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations offered their communications resources to educate and encourage Tennesseans affected by the disaster to register for assistance.

Within weeks, some of Tennessee’s largest associations and businesses, including Cracker Barrel, Gaylord Entertainment, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corp., and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, found creative ways to communicate critical information to community members and thousands of their employees, families and friends. Initiatives included:

* Tennessee Titans players starred in three public service announcements highlighting how to register with FEMA and prepare for a disaster;

* Lamar Advertising featured the 800-621-FEMA helpline on eight electronic billboards along major freeways free of charge, reaching 371,000 people each day;

* Regal Cinemas ran registration messages on its Lobby Entertainment Network of plasma screens in lobbies of three Nashville locations;

* NASCAR broadcast announcements encouraging viewers to register and posted disaster assistance information on the speedway’s giant electronic billboard;

* Graffiti Indoor Advertising posted registration information in eight locations; and

* Advertising Vehicles posted internal disaster registration banners inside 50 Nashville MTA buses.

Follow the recovery in Tennessee online at http://twitter.com/tema, www.twitter.com/femainfocus, http://www.facebook.com/TNDisasterInfo, www.youtube.com/fema and http://www.flickr.com/photos/t_e_m_a.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA and TEMA do not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

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Flood Relief Tax Break OK’d By Both Houses

Press Release from House Democratic Leader Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville; June 8, 2010:

Tax Rebates on Appliances, Building Materials, Furniture Approved by State Legislature

(Nashville) — A proposal to assist the recovery effort for Tennessee flood victims, introduced by House Democratic Leader Gary Odom, was approved by the legislature today.

Under House Bill 228, Tennesseans that qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance could buy appliances, building materials and furniture tax-free through September.

The measure passed without opposition today in the House after unanimously passing last week in the state Senate.

“We have seen so much devastation to homes throughout Tennessee, and many people remain displaced due to the May floods,” said Odom (D-Nashville). “It’s the least we can do to help our neighbors get back on their feet.”

The measure would have no effect on the budget, Odom said, because the sales tax collected on appliances, furnishings and building materials purchased by flood victims would never have been collected in the first place if not for the recent disaster.

The proposal provides for sales tax rebates on household appliances and furnishings priced at $3,200 per item or less, and building materials priced at $500 per item or less. Each affected household will be eligible for up to $2,500 in tax relief on applicable items. Also, a fine of $25,000 would be imposed on anyone who fraudulently applies for the assistance.

“We’re reminding everyone to save their receipts until the details are finalized,” Odom said. “Applications for these tax rebates will soon be available from the Department of Revenue.”

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Government Tells Flood-Aid Recipients to ‘Use Disaster Assistance Grants Wisely’

State of Tennessee press release, May 26, 2010:

Advice from FEMA Officials: Use Disaster Assistance Grants Wisely

NASHVILLE – Disaster recovery officials urge Tennessee recipients who were affected by recent storms and flooding and are recipients of federal grants in the disaster-designated counties to use the money wisely.

“If the grant assistance is used properly, it doesn’t have to be paid back and eligibility for further help is possible,” said Gracia B. Szczech, Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Coordinating Officer in charge of the recovery efforts.

Most funds are deposited electronically and a letter follows in the mail to explain how the money is to be used. If the grant is in the form of a check, it should be deposited promptly and not cashed.

Don’t:

• Use the funds to pay household bills.

• Use the funds to make purchases unrelated to needs created by the disaster.

• Use the funds to travel.

Housing funds may be used for:

* Repairs to return a home to a safe and functional condition. This may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home.

* Reimbursement for lodging expenses directly related to the disaster. Receipts for these expenses will be requested if the home sustained damages.

* Rental assistance. Applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the initial assistance covers may request more assistance until their home can be occupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made. They must also turn in proper receipts to receive further assistance.

Recipients of Other Needs Assistance may use the funds for:

* Personal property, specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances and vehicle repair or replacement.

* Medical, dental, funeral and moving expenses.

* Grant recipients are required to sign a declaration and a release certifying all funds will be spent on the expenses for which they are intended.

Grants are subject to an audit. Recipients are strongly encouraged to fully document their disaster-related expenses. They must keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all of the money was used in meeting disaster-related needs.

It is important to note that grants are tax free and are not a loan. They do not have to be repaid. They are not counted as income for welfare or other federal benefit programs and they cannot be garnished.

By law, FEMA grants, which are taxpayer dollars, cannot duplicate payments from other sources. For example, if a grant recipient receives an insurance settlement covering expenses already paid for by FEMA, those duplicated funds must be reimbursed to FEMA.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

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Disaster Area Tally Up to 45 Counties

State of Tennessee Press Release; May 19, 2010:

Cannon, Giles, Marshall Approved for Individual, Public Assistance

NASHVILLE – Four Tennessee counties have been approved for federal assistance as a result of extreme weather and flooding that struck the state April 30-May 2.

Cannon, Giles and Marshall counties have been approved in both the individual and public assistance categories. Residents and business owners who sustained losses in Cannon, Giles and Marshall counties can begin applying for assistance immediately by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Individual assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Public assistance is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures only at this time. In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

In addition, Pickett County has been approved in the public assistance category. The designation means local governments in Pickett County are eligible to apply for federal assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures and repairing, restoring or replacing damaged public facilities.

Two of the counties announced today – Marshall and Pickett – were not among the counties for which Governor Phil Bredesen originally requested disaster assistance on May 3, but preliminary damage assessments conducted since the initial request led both counties to qualify.

Forty-two counties were previously approved for individual and public assistance, including Benton, Carroll, Cheatham, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Smith, Sumner, Tipton, Williamson and Wilson.

Today’s announcement brings the number of counties approved for both individual and public assistance to 45 and adds Pickett County in the public assistance category.

FEMA will schedule briefings with local officials in approved counties to provide information on the assistance available and how to apply. Federal, state and local teams have been inspecting all disaster-related damage, examining expenses identified by the state or local representatives, and preparing reports that outline the scope of repair work needed and the estimated restoration cost.

For public assistance projects that are eventually approved, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost. The remaining 25 percent is split between the state and local government. These projects may include such things as debris removal, emergency services related to the severe storms and flooding, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The latter category includes eligible schools, libraries and other public buildings, and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available. For more updates regarding the state’s response, visit the TEMA website at www.tnema.org.

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Sen. Henry Joins Rep. Odom Calling for Flood-Victim Tax Breaks

Press Release from Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, May 18, 2010:

Legislation would exempt building, appliance purchases from sales tax

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Douglas Henry (D-Nashville) sponsored an amendment Tuesday to allow flood victims to be exempt from sales tax for purchases of major appliances and home building supplies.

“Many Nashville flood victims lost everything in their homes, including all their appliances,” Henry said. “Giving them a sales tax break could potentially save them thousands of dollars as they rebuild their lives.”

The amendment to Senate Bill 3901, also known as the technical corrections bill, would exempt anyone receiving federal disaster assistance as a result of the early May flooding from paying state and local sales tax on essential home items. Such items would include major home appliances up to $3,200 each and building materials up to $500 each.

Davidson County has been declared a federal disaster relief area, making residents eligible for federal aid. More than 28,000 Tennesseans have applied for federal disaster relief, and the state sales tax break is one more way lawmakers can help Tennesseans in a time of great need, Henry said.

“I have seen my neighbors across Nashville work together to help each other recover, and I want the State to do its part,” Henry said. “I’m optimistic that my fellow lawmakers and I will get this done.”

If approved, the exemption would run through Sept. 30. The amendment is not expected to severely impact revenues, as the state would not have counted on a drastic increase in such purchases had the floods not occurred.

The measure awaits approval in the Senate and House, where Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville) is sponsoring the amendment.

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Odom Pushes Tax Exemption for Flood Victims

Press Release from House Minority Leader Gary Odom, D-Nashville, May 14, 2010:

Tax relief through September on appliances, building materials

(Nashville) — House Democratic Leader Gary Odom proposed a measure Friday that would provide for tax exemptions on appliances and building materials for families who suffered flood damage earlier this month.

Tennesseans that qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance authorized by President Barack Obama, under the measure, could buy appliances and building materials tax free through September.

“After several meetings with constituents, I believe that this is absolutely necessary in providing relief for our citizens that were devastated by the recent flooding disaster,” said Odom (D-Nashville). “It is the least we can do to help our neighbors and friends get back on their feet.”

This measure would not have a negative effect on the budget because the sales tax collected on appliances and building materials bought by flooding victims would not have been collected in the first place if it weren’t for the recent disaster, Odom said.

The proposal will be under consideration in the coming weeks as the state Legislature wraps up the budgeting process for the year.

“I’m going to be working with my colleagues in the coming days to put together the votes to make this a reality for those who have lost so much here in our state,” Odom said.

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Federal Flood Money Flowing In

The typical flood victim will collect $5,000 to $10,000 in federal aid to help put their lives back together, even if the damage extends by thousands of dollars beyond that.

Those who qualify can also apply for loans, although that money will have to be paid back.

“In many cases, it gets people back into their homes,” Eugene Brezany, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said last week. “So at least they’ve got a roof over their heads and knifes, forks and spoons in the kitchen drawer. But it’s pretty bare bones,” he said.

Residents in more than half of the 52 soggy counties slammed with a storm that triggered floods earlier this month are now eligible to register with FEMA, officially signing up for an inspection of their home or damaged property in order to calculate how much recovery grant money, if any, they qualify for from the federal government.

Residents in counties not yet named disaster areas will have to wait until their area is called before applying.

It can take days or weeks for a FEMA representative to survey a property to determine the total damage. Once the inspection is over, money to help repair leaky basements, replace soggy carpets and replace goods that were soaked in flood waters could take few weeks to arrive, Brezany said.

The federal aid is aimed at those who lacked insurance to cover their flood and storm damages. FEMA says those who were insured are still encouraged to register because there may be other damages not included in the initial settlement.

Residents have several options to dealing with their flood damage. In addition to the grant money, they can also apply for low interest loans with the Small Business Administration or a private company.

Eligible residents can apply for up to a $200,000 loan from the federal government at a 2.75 percent interest rate. Individuals can tack on up to $40,000 more to address personal property, such as vehicles.

But it’s no blank check, said Jelani Miller, a spokesman for the Small Business Administration, adding that each dollar must be spent addressing issues related to the storm and flood. While someone might be replacing a water-damaged TV, they are not supposed to use that money buy an entertainment system.

The same goes for low-interest federal business loans, which allow a company to borrow up to $2 million at 4 percent interest.

Some private banks also offer disaster related loans which can be used more freely than the government money.

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News Tax and Budget

Flood Delays GOP Budget Plan; Doesn’t Alter Anti-Tax Stance

Indefinite disruptions to commercial activity and staggering losses of personal property to the catastrophic flooding over Middle and West Tennessee further bring home the point that inundating the private sector with new taxes now is bad public policy and worse politics, say legislative Republicans.

The GOP budget plan, put on hold for yet another week, will still include deeper cuts to state spending than what’s been proposed by the governor in order to avoid adding to taxpayers’ burdens, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris said Thursday.

“I think the recent flooding and the devastation from the storms is additional grounds for us to go easy on Tennesseans and quit taxing them right now,” Norris said.

Senate Republicans say they might be ready to unveil their version of a state budget early next week after ironing out details with their House counterparts.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he is sharing the plan with both Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives to speed up negotiations. “I just kind of want to pass this around, bounce it around, see where everybody is to make sure and get relatively close to begin with,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey hopes the plan, which he said removes all tax increases posed by Gov. Phil Bredesen earlier this year, could be officially approved by both chambers in “a week or so.”

GOP lawmakers have promised to share an alternative to Bredesen’s budget plan for weeks, but have repeatedly missed their own deadlines, saying they need more time or are waiting for key documents from the governor’s office.

A vote Wednesday night in the House in favor of a hospital tax that will help close part of a $660 million hole and dodge cuts to TennCare and helped clean up next year’s budget picture, said Norris.

Lawmakers are still facing at least a $105 million hole in the next budget year that kicks off July 1. Bredesen suggested filling it with additional tax revenue the state can collect if it lifts the sales tax on purchases higher than $3,200.

Republicans nixed that idea and say they’ll propose an alternative plan “without,” in Norris’ words, “all the taxes and fees the governor seeks.”

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at andreazelinski@tnreport.com.