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TNDP: Republicans Need to Get Real on Unemployment Issues

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, Sept. 9, 2011:

1-in-10 hunting for jobs—Republican lawmaker says Tennessee ‘too easy’ on job seekers

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called out Republican lawmakers Thursday for being “out of touch with reality” on growing the state economy and assisting Tennessee’s 300,000 job seekers.

“We don’t have a shortage of work ethic in Tennessee, we have a shortage of work. We have roads and bridges to fix, safe energy to harness, and schools to rebuild,” Forrester said. “Instead of playing politics and mocking people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own, Republicans should want to work with Democrats in finding ways to make Tennessee work again for Tennesseans.”

In August, Wacker Chemie, a Germany-based company that former Gov. Phil Bredesen recruited to set up in Bradley County, reportedly accepted 10,000 applications for 130 positions.

Forrester’s statement comes after a comment made Thursday by Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock. Matlock said Tennessee’s 306,000 job seekers weren’t actually looking for work because they have no incentive to find a job.

“We’re making it too easy,” Matlock said in reference to the extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

In Tennessee, the maximum unemployment insurance benefit is $1,100 a month or less. That’s at the poverty line.

“The truth is Tennesseans want to work, and Democrats won’t rest until every Tennessean who wants to work has a job,” Forrester said. “Irresponsible comments like the one from Mr. Matlock just reaffirm how out of touch with reality Republicans have become.”

On Wednesday Democratic members of the state House and Senate announced a six-day jobs tour across the state Sept. 19-24 to talk to business owners, local officials and the public about how to best grow jobs in Tennessee.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris accused his Democratic colleagues of using the tour for politics.

“That’s a rich accusation coming from Sen. Norris considering his party killed a dozen Democratic jobs bills this year and did absolutely nothing on their own to grow the economy,” Forrester said. “Sen. Norris and Gov. Bill Haslam are obviously waiting for Santa to leave jobs under the tree this Christmas.

“Republicans continue to sit on their hands and call it leadership,” Forrester said. “It’s past time Republicans stopped complaining about the government, and started focusing on running it well.”

FACTS: Plenty of work ethic, not enough work

  • In Bradley County, Wacker Chemie has received 10,000 applications and made 130 hires. [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 8/17/11]
  • In Knox County, 700 students attend a jobs fair at UT Knoxville [Daily Beacon, 8/26/11]
  • In Robertson County, 400 people turned out for a job fair [NewsChannel5.com, 8/17/11]
  • In Hamilton County, Amazon.com received 4,300 applications in two days. [Memphis Business Journal, 5/18/11]
  • In Rutherford County, 800 people apply for teaching positions. [Daily News Journal, 5/15/11]
  • In Knox County, Jobs News’ drew more than 1,400 job seekers. [WVLT, 5/4/11]
  • In Tullahoma, 60 people applied for 10 jobs — at McDonalds. [Tullahoma News & Guardian, 4/28/11]
  • In Montgomery County, “thousands of people” attend a two-day job fair in Clarksville. [The Leaf-Chronicle, 4/28/11]
  • In Shelby County, more than 20,000 job-seekers applied over 14 days to work at a brewery that plans to hire 500 workers over the next five years. [The Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4/13/11]

Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 9.8%

That’s higher than the national average. 306,200 Tennesseans are still looking for jobs. [BLS.gov, 9/8/11]

RHETORIC: Tennessee Republicans eager to abandon and mock people who’ve lost their jobs.

Rep. Jimmy Matlock: “We’re making it too easy.” [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9/8/11]

Rep. Glen Casada: “I would contend the answer to that is it’s up to individuals to help their family and their friends and neighbors who don’t have a job.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

Rep. Tim Wirgau: “We got people who can’t find jobs, but we got more people who don’t look for jobs because we keep handing them money.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/20/11]

McCormick’s Next Task Force to Tackle Economic Development

Press Release from Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; July 14, 2011:

Representative Jimmy Matlock Named Chairman; Group Will Explore Ways to Reduce Government, Allow Private Sector to Expand

(July 14, 2011, NASHVILLE) – With the 2011 Southern Legislative Conference coming up this weekend in Memphis, giving Tennessee legislators the opportunity to learn about the best practices from other States and share our own, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R—Chattanooga) announced the formation of what is expected to be the final task force of the House Majority.

The Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force will consist of ten Members of the House Majority. In a letter announcing the appointments to the task force, Leader McCormick outlined specific duties for the working group. They include:

  • Identifying regulations that are impeding job growth in Tennessee’s private sector and developing measures to remove those hurdles;
  • Ascertain the best practices of other States when it comes to paving the way for job creation by small businesses and companies;
  • Develop strategies and potential policy initiatives to make Tennessee’s environment better for business expansion and recruitment.

Representative Jimmy Matlock (R—Lenoir City) was given the responsibility of chairing the task force. The other Members include: Representative Charles Sargent (R—Franklin), Representative Curtis Johnson (R—Clarksville), Representative Steve McManus (R—Cordova), Representative Jon Lundberg (R—Bristol), Representative Pat Marsh (R—Shelbyville), Representative Sheila Butt (R—Columbia), Representative David Alexander (R—Winchester), Representative Bill Sanderson (R—Kenton), Representative Ryan Williams (R—Cookeville), and Representative Tim Wirgau (R—Buchanan). The group intends to meet when other scheduled legislative committees meet such as the Fiscal Review Committee or summer study meetings.

“With unpredictable policies that affect businesses coming out of Washington, I believe it is our responsibility to create good policies that will have a positive effect on job development for Tennesseans,” said Majority Leader McCormick. “This task force will conduct a thorough review of our Code and find places where we can eliminate burdensome government regulations that are hurting Tennessee businesses. While Democrats are the Party of income taxes and ineffective government solutions to our challenges, I believe the proper path to sustainable, long-term economic growth is by unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and our business community.”

Rep. Matlock agreed and added, “We had a successful 2011 that included a number of pro-growth reforms for Tennesseans. However, there is much work to be done. This task force will be responsible for presenting a package of recommendations to the full Majority that will form the basis of our next economic development package. I appreciate the opportunity to lead this group and look forward to getting to work.”

“Since Governor Haslam and our Republican Majority were elected last fall, we have been consistent in our efforts to reform the way government operates and to create a consistent environment for Tennessee businesses. This task force is the next logical step in that cause and I look forward to hearing how we can help Tennessee’s job creators,” said Rep. Johnson.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy and our economy here at home,” said Rep. Wirgau. “Job development is the number one issue on the minds of Tennesseans and, as a business owner myself, I look forward to identifying ways we can get government out of the way so our job market can start growing once more.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R—Nashville) concluded, “This is a smart undertaking for our Majority. 2011 saw us institute a number of critical reforms that will help businesses grow. We reformed education for our children, implemented tort reforms for the business environment, and we reduced the size of government. Next session, I believe we can drill down and identify some specific policies that will have a positive impact on Tennessee’s job market. I look forward to hearing the results of this task force’s work.”

Leader McCormick announced the appointments in a letter to all Members of the House Republican Majority. The full text of the letter is below:

July 14, 2011

Fellow Caucus Members:

I sent a letter to each of you yesterday announcing the appointment of a Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force. This task force, along with the Energy Task Force that was formed earlier this year, will provide a vital service to our Caucus and to our State by conducting significant research on complex issues.

The main goal of the House Republican Caucus is to implement good public policy that will benefit all of Tennessee’s citizens. Without a doubt, the greatest issue for Tennesseans is the lagging economy that our nation is currently experiencing. Since our Majority was formed, our number one concern has been economic development for Tennessee. This includes job development, business expansion, and private sector growth. Though we had a successful 2011 legislative session, we can do more. That is why I am excited to announce the formation of a final task force that will concentrate squarely on that issue.

I have asked ten of our members to form the Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force. This group will develop strategies and potential policy initiatives to make Tennessee’s environment better for business expansion and recruitment, as well as identify regulations that impede job growth in Tennessee’s private sector and develop measures to remove those hurdles. Another key task of this group will be to ascertain the best practices of other States when it comes to paving the way for job creation by small businesses and companies. Providing a great business climate is a process of constant improvement, and I look forward to hearing the task force’s report to the Caucus at the conclusion of their research.

The Republican Caucus Small Business and Economic Development Task Force will consist of the following members:

Rep. Jimmy Matlock, Chairman

Rep. Charles Sargent

Rep. Curtis Johnson

Rep. Pat Marsh

Rep. Tim Wirgau

Rep. Steve McManus

Rep. Jon Lundberg

Rep. David Alexander

Rep. Sheila Butt

Rep. Ryan Williams

Rep. Bill Sanderson