budget

TN September tax collections $58.8M over estimates

News release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee’s revenues exceeded budgeted estimates for the second month of the state’s fiscal year.  Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today reported that overall September revenues were $1.4 billion, which is $48.3 million more than September of last year and $58.8 million more than the budgeted estimate. The growth rate for September was 3.68%.

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Black prepares to step down as budget chair — but won’t say when

Having finally shepherded the fiscal 2018 budget resolution through the House, U.S. Rep. Diane Black is now preparing to give up her gavel as chair of the House Budget Committee after 10 months in the position to focus on her run for governor, reports Roll Call.

Black still won’t put a timeline on her departure date — including whether she will stick it out through conference negotiations with the Senate.

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Regents push hiring of 100 new ‘success coaches’

The state Board of Regents wants $7.1 million to hire 100 new student counselors – or “success coaches” — at Tennessee’s community colleges and technical centers, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

It’s the most expensive of four “priorities” for new money established at a board meeting next week, totaling $14.1 million. Those items are in addition to requests for new capital project spending – the top priority there being a $17.7 million technology building at Columbia State Community College’s Williamson County Campus.

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‘Restless’ Black pushing for U.S. House budget vote with no assurance of passage

House Budget Chairman Diane Black  Tuesday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the budget to the floor this month, even though her hard-fought fiscal outline lacks the 218 votes needed for passage, reports Politico. Frustrated by her party’s divisions, she is daring die-hard conservatives to vote no, forcing them to take the fall for choking off the party’s chances at tax reform.

“Sometimes when you get this close, perhaps you just need to put it on the floor,” Black (R-Tenn.) told POLITICO in a 30 minute interview. “I have made the case to the leadership, that I think it’s time.”

“I am restless. I want to have it done,” she said.

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TN cuts in higher ed funding less than national average

Tennessee state government funding to higher education has fallen by 13.9 percent on a per-student basis since 2008 — but that’s less than the average for all states of 16 percent. So reports the Washington -based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities after a review of statistics.

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Black remains as House Budget Committee chair — at least until September

House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is intent on maintaining her chairmanship despite announcing plans Wednesday to run for governor in her home state, reports The Hill.

“She will remain chairman for the time being and is focused on getting this budget across the finish line,” a spokesman for Black said.

But a 2014 GOP rule named for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would prohibit Black from staying in the position while running for outside office unless she obtains a waiver.

Black ushered the House Budget resolution through the committee, but so far has not garnered enough support to pass it on the House floor.

It is unclear exactly when she would be required to give up her gavel. The House is in recess until September, and the Republican Steering Committee, which makes the call on waivers and new chairmen, will also be out until then.

Other committee members are already eyeing the position, with Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) seeking to take over. Another committee member, House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), also floated the possibility of getting the gavel.

Budget Chair Black presents plan for $203B in federal spending cuts

House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black presented her proposal for cutting the federal budget today, contending that her blueprint, unlike past budget documents, would serve more than a messaging purpose, reports Politico.

“Today, we are introducing not just a vision for our country, but a plan for action,” Black wrote in a statement. “With a Republican Congress and a Republican administration, now is the time to put forward a governing document with real solutions to address our biggest challenges.”

The ambitious plan calls for $203 billion in mandatory cuts, which would mark the largest amount of deficit reduction through the budget process in two decades. And forcing Republicans to combine their already-complex push for tax reform with massive funding reductions would be a risky maneuver.

Some GOP lawmakers have already said they are worried about the potential political attacks if they’re seen as cutting programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to pay for billions in tax breaks.

The House Budget Committee is expected to approve the proposal Wednesday, though it remains unclear whether the plan would garner enough support to pass on the House floor.

The idea of mandatory spending cuts has already created tension within the fractious GOP conference. Nearly three dozen GOP centrists have balked at the idea of missing the chance for tax reform, while hard-line fiscal hawks have demanded even steeper reductions.

Note: The referenced Black statement appears as an op-ed piece in USA Today.

U.S. House committee bucks Trump budget plan, provides $130M to Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission, targeted for elimination in President Donald Trump’s March budget blueprint,  instead would receive $130 million in new funding for the coming year under a proposal winning approval of a key U.S. House committee, reports the Johnson City Press.

A representative from the Appalachian Regional Commission said the funding allocated by the House Appropriations Committee is in step with the amount the agency would typically receive from the federal government.

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., led 13 Republican representatives in writing a letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water to urge them to fund the commission.

“The ARC is not a typical federal agency,” the letter read. “It is a true commission.”

… “We understand the budgetary constraints the subcommittee is facing,” the representatives said in the letter. “We believe this is an important partnership with the states that should be maintained and supported with robust funding.”

… “I will continue working to ensure adequate funding for ARC is included in FY18,” Roe said in a statement emailed to the Press

June TN tax collections: $112M over budget estimates

News release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE,  Tenn. – Total tax revenues for June were above budgeted expectations. Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin announced today that overall Tennessee tax revenues in June, led by strong growth in franchise and excise (F&E) taxes, were $1.4 billion, which is $112.1 million more than the state budgeted.

“While we are encouraged by the positive revenue numbers, we need to be mindful of two important points,” Martin said. “First, the Funding Board in November 2016 revised upward for the fiscal year 2017 budget the anticipated positive variance for overall Tennessee taxes. As a result, $663.3 million of the fiscal year 2017 unaudited year to date positive variance of $731.3 million general fund revenue is already included in the fiscal year 2018 budget. Secondly, F&E tax payments by businesses are estimates of their tax liability and are subject to change.”

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Politico: House GOP budget woes could be ‘politically devastating’ for Diane Black

Politico has a feature story Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Diane Black, “the woman in the middle of House Republicans’ budget woes” as chair of the House Budget Committee.

The article has considerable detail on Black’s efforts to put together a federal budget deal, including the collapse of what she thought was a workable plan last week because some Republicans thought the cuts were too much and GOP leaders didn’t want to force things. And it’s got some background on Black herself.

An excerpt:

She’s caught between a committee stocked with fiscal hawks eager to cut the deficit, with whom she sympathizes, and other GOP chairmen loath to go along with her ambitious plan for curbing Pentagon spending and mandatory programs like food stamps.

Much is at stake. President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress can’t rewrite the tax code without getting a budget passed for procedural reasons. And failure to pass a budget could be devastating politically for Black, who’s considering a bid for Tennessee governor.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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