Tennessee would receive $64.3 million in federal funds – to be matched with $6.4 million in state dollars – to provide pre-kindergarten classes to another 7,861 children under President Obama’s “Preschool for All” program, according to a White House estimate released Wednesday.
A spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam says the governor will review the proposal, but is waiting for a Vanderbilt University study of pre-k effectiveness before making a final decision. The study, launched in 2009, will not complete its first stage until next year.
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, a leading critic of pre-k programs in the state Legislature, said Wednesday the state should ignore the federal offer. He also voiced skepticism about the Vanderbilt study.
Tennessee now has a voluntary pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because of low-family income. It will provide $85 million in funding for the current year to fund 935 pre-k classes enrolling about 18,000 students statewide, according to state Department of Education figures.
Obama’s proposal calls for providing $75 billion nationwide over a 10-year period to expand pre-k enrollment with new funding to come from an increase in federal cigarette taxes.
News release from Department of Finance and Administration:
NASHVILLE – Revenue collections in Tennessee for October continue to indicate consumer confidence in the state’s economy. Finance and Administration commissioner Mark Emkes reported today that state revenue collections for October were $791.5 million, which is 8.01% above October 2010.
“We’re satisfied with the positive growth rates experienced in our overall tax collections, especially in the sales tax, which is the best indicator of economic recovery in Tennessee,” Emkes said. “The sales tax recorded a first quarter growth of 6.5%, which is the best first quarter growth since 2006.
“However, we continue to watch national leading economic indicators, which show that very slow recovery is in progress, and in light of that and the uncertainty surrounding resolution of the federal budget, we must continue to be diligent in monitoring our spending patterns.”
On an accrual basis, October is the third month in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
October collections were $36.4 million more than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was over collected by $34.0 million and the four other funds were over collected by $2.4 million.
Sales tax collections were $15.9 million more than the estimate for October. The October growth rate was 6.17%. Year-to-date the growth rate is 6.50%.
Franchise and excise combined collections for October were $35.1 million, and they were $24.9 million above the budgeted estimate of $10.2 million.
Gasoline and motor fuel collections increased by 1.93% and they were $1.2 million below the budgeted estimate of $72.8 million.
Tobacco tax collections for the month were under collected by $1.6 million.
Privilege tax collections were $600,000 less than the budgeted estimate of $21.2 million.
Inheritance and Estate taxes were under collected by $1.9 million for the month.
All other taxes were over collected by a net of $0.9 million.
Year-to-date collections for three months were $59.9 million more than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was over collected by $56.8 million and the four other funds were over collected by $3.1 million.
The budgeted revenue estimates for 2011-2012 are based on the State Funding Board’s consensus recommendation of April 15, 2011 and adopted by the first session of the 107th General Assembly in May. They are available on the state’s website at http://www.tn.gov/finance/bud/budget.html.
The staff assigned to assess the impact of legislation on state budgeting has made some miscalculations in the past, according to recent review of bills dealing with such things as martial arts, liquor licenses and traffic offenses.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and some other are now proposing that the Fiscal Review Committee begin assessing the impact of bills on business bottom lines, a move that Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle sees as unnecessary and politically motivated.
The Fiscal Review Committee once estimated the cost of such business impact assessments at more than $500,000 for the first year.
The committee this summer followed up on a sample of bills enacted in the past to see what the actual cost of the legislation was in hindsight, as compared to the estimated cost at the time the bills were being considered by the General Assembly.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), August 18, 2011 — The Chairmen of the Senate and House Finance Committees, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today congratulated the state’s Funding Board for their accuracy in estimating Tennessee’s incoming revenue for fiscal year 2010-11. Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Chairman Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) said the Funding Board revised the final estimates earlier in the budget year than usual and were only .032 percent from the actual collections.
“We congratulate the Funding Board for hitting these numbers right on target,” said Senator McNally. “We asked them to bring us their estimates before the April collections were received so the General Assembly could finish on time this year, and they did so with extreme accuracy.”
The Tennessee State Funding Board was created by law and is comprised of Governor Bill Haslam, Comptroller Justin Wilson, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David Lillard and Commissioner of Finance Mark Emkes. The Board considers economic projections from the state’s top economists near the end of the legislative session before forecasting both how much Tennessee will need to close out the current fiscal year, and what to expect as far as estimates for the next budget year.
The Board projected $8.5 billion in revenues in forecasting the close of the 2010-11 budget year and were within $27.6 million of that estimate.
“The year end variance reflects barely a day’s worth of revenue,” added Sargent. “The state has benefited greatly from the Funding Board’s cautious approach in what is a very fragile economy.”
“Unlike Washington, Tennessee must balance its budget, requiring absolute accuracy in our accounting. The Funding Board predicted our fiscal future with unprecedented precision,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “The quality of their work allowed the Republican majority to keep our commitment to be efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Speaker Harwell concluded, “I am very proud of the efforts of the Funding Board and their work with Chairman Sargent. In these difficult economic times, our numbers have to be on target so we can craft a responsible, balanced budget. In doing so, we have painted a sharp contrast with Washington and provided taxpayers with a clear model of what fiscally-conservative, pro-growth leadership looks like.”
The cost of tearing down the K-25 uranium-enrichment facility and disposing of the waste could ultimately cost more than $1.2 billion, according to a federal audit that slammed the Department of Energy’s years-long management of the big cleanup project.
More from Frank Munger: The report by DOE’s Office of Inspector General was released Monday. The new cost estimate for the K-25 decommissioning and demolition project, which began in 2004 and may not be completed until 2016, is multiple times higher than the original cost estimates and almost double the project’s baseline in 2008.
In a July 13 memo to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the early cost estimates and schedule for demolishing the K-25 building were “significantly exceeded” because of serious technical issues.
Those issues included the concerns that enriched uranium in process equipment could go “critical” (involving an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction and release of radiation); the sheer size of the mile-long facility, which was the world’s largest building under one roof at the time of its construction during the World War II Manhattan Project; and hazards associated with the degraded condition of the 65-year-old structure.
Andrea Zelinski raises and answers that question in a TNReport article. Included are comments from legislators who question the soundness of the process for estimating how much a bill would cost state government.
An excerpt: But while many lawmakers regard fiscal notes as reliable estimates of government costs, they are anything but error-proof, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, even sometimes colored by politics. The staff who develop the estimates rely on a series of judgment calls and information from a variety of sources, including state agencies which have been known to exaggerate the effects of bills they may dislike, some lawmakers say.
“If (departments) don’t want to do something, they give us an inflated fiscal note,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who sits on the Fiscal Review Committee overseeing the office that develops the price tags. “Conversely, I suspect, if it’s something they wanted to do, they would deflate the fiscal note.”
“The fiscal notes are only as good as the information that’s given to the fiscal committee,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Craig Fitzhugh who echoed that some departments tend to tweak their estimates depending on their view of a bill.
Look back note: A story on the same Fiscal Reviewing subject, written a couple of years ago, is HERE.