Monthly Archives: December 2017

Republican who lost to Fitzhugh in 2016 tries again in House District 82

Press release from Andy Cole campaign

Alamo, Tenn.– Andy Cole announced on Tuesday his intention to seek the Republican nomination for the Tennessee House of Representatives for the 82nd District (now held by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who is running for the Democratic nomination as governor rather than seeking reelection).

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ECD deemed winner of Beacon’s TN 2017 ‘Pork of the Year’ award

Press release from Beacon Center of Tennessee

In the 12th annual Tennessee Pork Report, the Beacon Center revealed that state and local government officials wasted more than $400 million of taxpayer money this past year.

The Pork Report highlights a combination of government mismanagement, incompetence, and outright fraud. The Beacon Center allowed Tennesseans to choose the infamous “Pork of the Year” award, and it really came down to the wire. After nearly 400 votes were cast, the “winner” of the award was the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development for their Industrial Machinery Tax Credit. The department took 34% of the vote in the public poll.

In one of the most inefficient instances of corporate welfare in recent years, Tennessee taxpayers paid a whopping $67 million annually for a mere 55 jobs per year from 2011-2014, which adds up to $1.2 million per job. Even if the program’s main goal isn’t to create jobs, it is not the government’s role to help buy equipment for some private companies on the backs of Tennessee taxpayers. The $14 million of tax dollars given to the Opryland Hotel to build a waterpark (that residents are not even allowed to use) came in a close second with nearly 32% of the vote. Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold and the state Jobs4TN Program came in the 3rd and 4th with 19% and 15%, respectively.

The Beacon Center prints the Pork Report every year to make sure state and local governments are held accountable for how ineffectively they spend our tax dollars. The wasteful spending in this report should make Tennesseans’ blood boil. We hope that government officials will use this report to slash wasteful spending in 2018.

The 2017 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars.

Note: The full 2017 “Pork Report” is HERE. Excerpt of some highlighted stuff as ‘nominated’ for Pork of the Year:

Jobs4TN: This state-based program has been taking millions of taxpayer dollars for years, spending more than $60 million in 2016- 2017 alone. This money then goes to a select few fortunate companies for their hiring and professional development needs, empowering government to pick winners and losers, and leaving left-out employers across the state to compete with these subsidized businesses.

Opryland Waterpark: The city of Nashville decided to give $14 million to Gaylord Opryland Hotel to construct a waterpark, and while taxpayers are footing the bill, the waterpark is open only to those staying at the hotel.

• Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD): ECD’s Industrial Machinery Tax Credit has doled out an astonishing $1.2 million in taxpayer money…per job. The tax credit has created just 55 total jobs at a cost of nearly $67 million.

• A Sheriff’s E-Cigarette Inmate Scheme: Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold profiteered off a captive audience of local inmates who were sold e-cigarettes from Arnold’s company—earning him and his wife nearly $75,000 over the course of their scheme, which was later exposed by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

Note: Arnold pleaded guilty to corruption charges and was sentenced to four years in prison. Randy Boyd, who resigned as ECD commissioner earlier this year, is running for governor.

Blackburn online Senate campaign ad (she opposed TN income tax)

In this online video for her U.S. Senate campaign, Rep. Marsha Blackburn points to her opposition to a state income tax while she was a state senator and takes a swat at TennCare in the process. She says the tax was proposed by a governor (Republican Don Sunquist, not mentioned in the video) “trying to pay for this test case for Hillary Care, which was called TennCare.”

More on Trump getting a Hawkins County subdivision lot — maybe just a promotional stunt?

Rogersville developer Phillip Henard tells the Kingsport Times-News that he got the “crazy idea” of quitclaiming a lot in a subdivision he owns to President Donald Trump a year or so ago and presidential associates recently agreed to accept it. But he denies speculation by a local utility district official that the move was part of an effort to get water service into the Grandview Estates subdivision.

The newspaper otherwise elaborates on earlier cryptic reports about transfer of the subdivision lot, which were based on a press release issued by Henard, after reviewing the deed and interviews with Henard and Lakeview Utility District Superintendent Tim Carwile.

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Construction gets underway on new $124M TN Library and Archives building

Press release from Secretary of State’s office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Monday.

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Hall tax repeal prompts letter-writing war between GOP legislators and Democrats

A letter-writing war has been underway in recent editions of The Cleveland Daily Banner between Republican state legislators representing Bradley County and Democrats. A letter from state Democratic  Chair Mary Mancini was the latest episode and prompted the newspaper to do a roundup story that chronicles the back-and-forth written sniping.

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TN conservatives send money to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore

Tennessee conservatives have been providing financial support to Republican Roy Moore in his campaign against Democrat Doug Jones, reports the Nashville Post after a review of Federal Election Commission filings. That includes a political action committee calling itself “Drain the DC Swamp,” which last week spent $10,000 on direct mail advertising.

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Legislator proposes to stop $30M in fees paid by local governments to state Dept. of Revenue

State Rep. Jason Zachary, working with Knox County Commissioner  John Schoonmaker, is making plans to eliminate a fee charged local governments by the state Department of Revenue for collecting local sales taxes and distributing the money to counties and cities, reports the News Sentinel.

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Haslam picks new Hamilton County judge

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Kyle E. Hedrick of Chattanooga as Circuit Court Judge for the 11th Judicial District.  He replaces Judge W. Neil Thomas III, who has retired. The 11th Judicial District serves Hamilton County.  Continue reading

Second Democrat enters 7th Congressional District race

Matt Reel, a Hickman County native and longtime staffer for Democrats in Congress also currently serving in the U.S. Army, has announced a run for the Congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, reports the Nashville Post.

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