Tag Archives: continue

Haslam Looking to More Privatizing

Despite a controversy over his outsourcing of state building operations, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he intends to continue privatizing state government operations where he believes it is practical, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
“I think our job is to deliver the very best service at the lowest price, and I’ve said that from the very beginning,” Haslam said last week, adding, “I think particularly this case with the real estate space is a great example of that.”
Haslam was referring to a contract with Chicago-based real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle to manage state office space.
…State employees and their representatives, meanwhile, argue that in at least some outsourcing ventures, the promised savings don’t materialize.
“As far as I know, state employees were doing a good job managing the buildings,” said Robert O’Connell, executive director of the Tennessee State Employees Association.
What employees “think we’re seeing here is an execution of a certain political philosophy” of privatization wherever possible of even “appropriate” public functions, O’Connell said.
Haslam said outsourcing state functions where it makes sense is one of several strategies his administration is using to keep government costs down.
“Right now we’re in a good revenue period, and the revenue’s always exceeding [estimates],” he said. “That doesn’t always last. When it doesn’t, we’re going to have to provide for that. This is a direct result of the top-to-bottom [reviews of state functions]” Haslam ordered after taking office.
The reviews have resulted in any number of cost-cutting measures and elimination of some state services.
Haslam argues the reviews don’t always lead to trimmed or eliminated programs, job cuts or privatization.
“There’s other things we’re taking back” from private vendors, Haslam said.
“I was talking to a highway contractor the other day who’s kind of mad about some things we used to let private contractors do that we’re bringing back in house” at the Department of Transportation.

State Making Incentive Payments to Hemlock Despite Layoffs

Hemlock Semiconductor of Clarksville laid off all of its nearly 300 employees months ago. But the company is still receiving regular payments from the state of Tennessee, including checks totaling nearly $720,000 just this month, reports WPLN.
The Department of Finance is making good on $95 million of promised incentives, having paid $92 million so far, according to a state spokesperson.
“This is something that the current administration sort of inherited,” says Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes. “I think we do have to be very careful and very thoughtful going forward on things like this.”
Former Governor Phil Bredesen – a Democrat – made the deal to bring the solar industry player to Tennessee in 2008. Since then, competition from China has dragged down the price for polysilicon, which is the key component in solar panels manufactured by Hemlock.
Now in the minority, Democrats like Lowe Finney pushed a bill this year that would give the state a way to get back some money if companies don’t deliver on their part of the deal.
“Different legislators have talked about oversight for a number of years,” Sen. Finney (D-Jackson) said. “But it’s a matter of timing.”
The law was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam late last week. It passed unanimously, but that may be because it could be viewed as watered-down. The proposal still doesn’t mandate clawback provisions in future economic incentive deals.