Fiscally conservative balanced budget is passed by legislators
Apr 13, 2014 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Brooks
Kevin Brooks
slideshow
Eric Watson
Eric Watson
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In the final week of the legislative session, the House of Representatives passed Tennessee’s annual budget by a 68–27 vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a fiscally responsible and balanced budget.

While the $32.4 billion budget does contain cuts due to a shortfall in projected tax revenue collections for the year, House Republicans focused their efforts on passing a lean, well-planned budget that preserves and protects those services Tennesseans depend on across the state while also helping provide an even better environment for businesses to grow and for jobs to flourish.

Budget highlights include:

1. Providing $8.5 million in salary equity funds for the 83 lowest paid school systems across the state;

2. A continued investment in jobs by providing over $56 million to the Jobs4TN program;

3. $77 million to TennCare to handle increased enrollment;

4. Increased funding for the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD);

5. Expansion of the Turney Industrial Complex by 200 beds to help overcrowding in local jails;

6. $35.5 million to the state's Rainy Day Fund;

7. Fully funding the state's pension plan, making it one of the most healthy retirement systems in the entire country;

8. Preserving full funding for the state’s Basic Education Program’s equity fund;

9. $31 million to continue the state's property tax freeze for seniors and disabled veterans; and

10. Fully funding cost of increased insurance premiums for state employees.

When Republicans became the General Assembly’s majority party in 2010, they promised Tennesseans that fiscal responsibility would be a priority. The budget they crafted holds true to that principle while ensuring Tennesseans get the services they expect and deserve.

Cleveland group to run

1,000 miles, raise

$50,000 for Boston

Marathon victims

In 1836, Davy Crockett and 65 other Tennessee men signed “an oath as volunteers” to defend and support their brothers and sisters in Texas at the Alamo. They traveled nearly a thousand miles to extend that “volunteer” support.

Now, 177 years later, 26 Tennessee men and women have signed another “oath as volunteers” to support their brothers and sisters involved in last year’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing. This volunteer effort, which includes an epic eight-day relay run starting here in Cleveland and ending in Boston aims to raise awareness about the ongoing issues victims of the Boston bombings continue to face and presents an opportunity to raise funds to support those victims and their families.

The runners left Cleveland Saturday and will arrive in Boston on April 20. The 26-person group is being accompanied by support vehicles and will run nonstop, 24 hours a day through eight states and over 1,000 miles, hitting multiple major metropolitan areas including Knoxville, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. The group will also make stops in several small communities along the way, with the official halfway point being Madison, Va. — population 210. The goal of the run is to raise $50,000 between Tennessee and Massachusetts.

It is truly an honor to represent Cleveland, Tennessee — The City With Spirit. For generations, the people of Tennessee have answered the call to volunteer for others in need, and this is still true today in Cleveland and all across this great state. Please help us welcome and cheer on these runners as they cross Tennessee on their Run Now Relay to Boston.

The running team has selected two charities to partner with for the run. The first organization, the One Step Ahead Foundation, provides support and services for those children who lost limbs when the pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs went off at last year’s Boston Marathon finish line. The second charity, Dream Big!, serves the underprivileged through involvement with local sporting activities. In addition, the team has received sponsorships that will cover most of the costs of the journey, with any remaining expenses being paid for by the team itself to allow 100 percent of donations to go to their partnering charities.

In Tennessee, the marathon group will travel through the cities of Cleveland, Lenoir City, Knoxville, Morristown, Jonesborough and Bristol.

To learn more about the fundraising effort to help the Boston Marathon victims, visit http://runnowrelay.org/.

Legislation protecting

teacher licenses passes

House unanimously

Legislation stating a teacher’s license cannot be revoked based on student test scores passed the full House of Representative last week with unanimous support from state lawmakers.

The bill, spearheaded by House Republicans, was filed in response to a recent decision by the Tennessee State Board of Education that fundamentally changed the rules of teacher licensure procedures in Tennessee.

Recently, the State Board eliminated teacher licenses based on college degrees and professional training, using instead a statistical estimate of student test scores known as the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System.

Since being approved, the change has been met with fierce opposition from teachers, parents and school administrators from across the state.

As noted by proponents of the legislation, TVAAS scores can and often do change years after students have left teachers’ classrooms, additionally citing that scores can fluctuate wildly for certain grades and subjects. The reason for the deep quirks is because TVAAS is not an absolute score, but a statistical estimate with a standard error built right in.

As in years past, House Republicans have committed to building on the successes and strengths of our students, our teachers and our schools across Tennessee.

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(Editor’s Note: This legislative summary has been submitted jointly by state Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, and state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District.)