Capitol Hill Review: Tennessee Comptroller gives thumbs up to state finances, but adds caution
by Eric Watson
Feb 10, 2013 | 380 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During House budget hearings last week, Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson praised accomplishments by lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session to cut taxes, pass a balanced budget and reduce the overall size of state government.

“Tennessee’s current financial state is attributable to the willingness of the General Assembly to enact budgets that have foregone, reduced or eliminated expenses and services,” Wilson told lawmakers. He also attributed recent financial success to the ability of the Haslam administration to create efficiencies in government operations.

Looking forward, however, Wilson cautioned legislators to be careful about future spending plans, stating the costs associated with funding potential federal mandates exceed optimistic revenue projections. As such, Wilson encouraged legislators to continue reducing expenses and for the Haslam administration to continue increasing the efficiency of state operations.

University of Tennessee

economists predict stronger

economy in coming years

Economists with the University of Tennessee last week predicted the state will see a stronger economy over the next two years.

While the economic outlook calls for modest growth in 2013, the study also cites “substantially stronger growth” in 2014. In addition, the report states Tennessee's unemployment rate will fall to 7.9 percent this year and 7.5 percent in 2014.

The study also predicts natural resource related fields, construction and professional business services will see the strongest growth rates over the coming years.

For more information on this study, visit http://cber.bus.utk.edu.

Legislators spearhead

effort to cut size

of state government

House legislators last week unveiled a new measure aimed at cutting the size of Tennessee government. The initiative, referred to as the Office of the Repealer, follows through on a promise to streamline state government, save taxpayer dollars and make the legislative process more transparent to the general public.

The Office of the Repealer will be a one-time, four-year position with the sole responsibility of making recommendations to the Legislature in areas of government waste, duplication and out-of-date regulations that should be removed from the law books.

In addition, the office will take recommendations directly from the public, basing its decisions on input received from business owners, educators, activists and concerned citizens from across the state.

The Office of the Repealer will be housed under the secretary of state and will be implemented using funding previously approved for a now obsolete staff position, thus costing no additional money to Tennessee taxpayers.

Education reform group

calls for more difficult

college standards

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education is calling for tougher college standards for Tennessee students, an announcement that was made last Tuesday during SCORE's third annual review of the state's progress in education.

Among the recommendations offered, SCORE Chairman Bill Frist emphasized that state lawmakers must not go back on progress made over the last few years relating to education reform. In particular, Frist cited that legislators be firm making sure reforms passed over the last two years are not diluted during the 2013-14 legislation session.

Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education, detailed proposals by Gov. Bill Haslam to continue improving education in Tennessee, stating that while the administration feels good about the progress and policies in place to help education move forward, there is still a “very, very long way to go.”

Additional details on the SCORE report can be found at www.tnscore.org.