budget

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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Threatened with state takeover, Hawkins County approves $40 wheel tax

The Hawkins County Commission approved a $40 wheel tax increase on Monday to avoid a threatened takeover of the county’s financial affairs by the state comptroller’s office, reports the Kingsport Times-News. But that doesn’t necessarily resolve the county’s budgeting troubles.

Now the Hawkins County Commission must wait 30 days to see if 1,095 registered Hawkins County voters, which is 10 percent of the Hawkins County voters who cast a ballot in the last gubernatorial election in 2014, sign a petition to require a special election referendum to let the county’s voters decide the fate of the wheel tax increase.

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May state revenue $53M above exepections

News release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee tax revenues exceeded budgeted estimates in May. Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that overall May revenues were $1.1 billion, which is $53.1 million more than the state budgeted.

“Total reported revenues in May reflect significant improvement compared to this time last year and were driven primarily by sales tax receipts,” Martin said. “Franchise and Excise taxes fell short of last year’s revenues and were below the monthly budgeted estimate.  All other tax revenues, taken as a group, were more than the May estimates.

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On Trump budget cuts for local governments in TN (where fed grants average $2,000 per person)

Tennessee is cited as an example of the negative impact of President Trump’s budget-cutting plans on state and local governments in a Politico story. Former Republican state Sen. Micheal Williams, now mayor of Union County and a self-described fiscal conservative, says he was stunned when he read the proposal.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God,’” Williams said. “I don’t know if they really thought this through.”

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TVA to cut spending, employees under Trump budget plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s preliminary budget plan for fiscal 2018, unveiled Tuesday by the Trump White House,  projects the agency will trim its capital spending next year by $677 million, cut its operating expenses by $263 million and trim its staff by another 316 employees compared with the current year.

Further from the Times Free Press:

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State revenue back on surplus track in April: $149K over budget estimate

News release from the Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  – Tennessee tax revenue exceeded budgeted estimates in April. Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin today announced that overall April revenues were $1.9 billion, which is $148.9 million more than the state budgeted.

“Total reported revenues in April reflect significant improvement over this time last year and were driven primarily by franchise and excise payments, sales tax receipts and business tax revenues,” Martin said.   “The Hall income tax posted a significant reduction from receipts received in April 2016 and was much less than budgeted expectations. All other tax revenues, taken as a group, were more than the April estimates.

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

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