State revenue was a bit below estimates in November ($4.1M)

Press release from Department of Finance and Administration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin announced Thursday that overall November state revenues were $957.3 million, which is 5.55 percent more than November 2016, but $4.1 million less than the budgeted estimate.

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TN county Democratic chair resigns after domestic violence dispute

Maury County Democratic Party Chairman Seth James Campbell resigned from the office Tuesday, reports the Columbia Daily Herald. Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini had called for him to do so after reports that he slightly injured his girlfriend in a confrontation, though the woman declined to prosecute and asked that a a domestic violence charge be dismissed. It was.

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Corker ‘really happy’ with Moore defeat in AL; Haslam sees a message

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tells the Times Free Press that Alabama Republican Roy Moore’s Senate race loss is “good for America” as well as the Republican Party so “that people understand this kind of beyond-the-pale extremism just is not going to elect Republicans to office.”

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Mackler withdraws from U.S. Senate race, sets up PAC

Nashville attorney and Army veteran James Mackler, who launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate eight months ago, announced Tuesday he is withdrawing from the race. Instead, he’s setting up a political action committee.

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Blount County Commission chair succeeds Swann in House District 8

Blount County Commission Chairman Jerome Moon was chosen to succeed former state Rep. Art Swann in House District 8 with 16-2 vote by colleagues on the commission Tuesday, reports the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times.

Swann had resigned the House seat after the commission earlier appointed him to fill the Senate District 2 seat vacated by former Sen. Doug Overbey, who resigned after being appointed U.S. Attorney for East Tennessee.

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Black says she was sexually harassed as a state legislator

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, now a candidate for governor, says in a column written for Townhall that she suffered episodes of sexual harassment from “the good ol’ boy culture” while a state legislator years ago.

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Legislators hear criticism of CoreCivic, call for improvement within a year

A legislative committee has voted, in effect, to give the state Department of Correction another year to show improvement after a hearing Tuesday centered on an comptroller’s audit that found multiple problems prisons operated by CoreCivic under contract with the state.

A joint Government Operations Subcommittee had earlier balked at granting approval of continued operations by the Department of Corrections as required periodically under the state’s “sunset” law  – something that normally happens as a matter of routine. After Tuesday’s hearing, the panel voted to extend the department’s life for just one year.

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Trump Jr. says report of family getting Hawkins County property ‘not true’

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Donald Trump Jr. denies a report that he, his father, other family members and the Trump organization were deeded a lot in a Hawkins County subdivision.

Says the tweet: We love Tennessee and it’s incredible people, but this is not true. There’s a link to a Las Vegas TV station’s report on the transfer of an acre lot in a Rogersville, Tenn., subdivision from developer Phillip Henard to President Trump, family members including his son and the Trump Organization.

And here’s an excerpt from a Tennessean report on the supposed deal:

Jeff Thacker, Hawkins County assessor, said because the transaction involved a quitclaim deed —  a type of real estate instrument that carries less weight than warranty deeds — the agreement is suspect.

“I have mailed a letter to the Trump Foundation today asking them to verify the validity of this document before I put it on the tax records in their name, which would be subject to taxation,” Thacker said on Tuesday.

“As far as this being bogus or whatever, all I’ve read is what’s been reported in the paper … it’s as clear as mud.”

Note: Most recent previous post HERE.

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.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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