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.
Weston Wamp said a new study validates his charge that U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann hasn’t honored a campaign pledge to save taxpayer cash, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. “Mr. Fleischmann’s record shows that his walk does not line up with his talk,” Wamp said Thursday in a news release. “When he had a chance to make a difference and cut spending, he couldn’t pull the trigger.”
Wamp, who along with two others is challenging Fleischmann in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary, was remarking on a study released by the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth. The study tracked House votes on this year’s 25 proposed amendments to appropriations bills that would have slashed spending and put the savings toward debt reduction — something Fleischmann claims to attempt every time he visits the House floor.
Not so, according to the study. Fleischmann supported 11 of 25 amendments overall, scoring 44 percent and finishing last among seven House Republicans from Tennessee.
The average Republican scored 59 percent.
Fleischmann defended his voting record.
“Most of these votes would have adversely impacted Oak Ridge [Tenn.], and I have said from day one … that the ongoing national security and nuclear energy work at Oak Ridge is a top priority of mine,” Fleischmann said in a email sent by campaign spokesman Jordan Powell.
In his release, Wamp, the 25-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, did not say whether he would have supported all the appropriations amendments, but in the past he has praised his father’s support for Oak Ridge and pledged to continue that tradition.
— Note: The Wamp release is below.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court launched a new website this week to provide the public with valuable resources to help navigate the court system. The new site, JusticeForAllTN.com, is intended to assist people with civil legal issues who cannot afford legal representation.
The Justice for All website includes downloadable court forms, resources for representing yourself in court, information about common legal issues and an interactive map with resources for each of the state’s 95 counties. Thanks to a partnership with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association, the site also gives visitors the ability to email a volunteer attorney with questions.
“We view the Justice For All website as a clearinghouse of information and legal resources for Tennesseans facing civil legal issues without the assistance of an attorney,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “We hope this site can make the legal system more accessible for all Tennesseans, regardless of income level.”
The Justice For All website also features a dedicated section for attorneys, business leaders and community members who wish to offer their assistance to the access to justice effort. This section of the site includes tools for attorneys to create their own pro bono clinic and links to various volunteer opportunities with legal aid organizations and bar associations across the state.
“Attorneys and community members are valuable partners in our efforts to improve access to justice in Tennessee,” Clark said. “We hope this site provides them with the tools and resources they need to continue the great work they are doing to offer pro bono assistance in their communities.”
Earlier this year, the Tennessee Court system also launched a redesigned version of its website, TNCourts.gov, to provide improved access to court information. The redesigned site features an interactive map of court contact information for each for the 95 counties in the state, an enhanced appellate court opinion search, a c alendar with appellate court dockets and a robust site-wide search. The site also allows visitors to sign up to receive appellate court opinions or news releases through an RSS feed or via email.
Visitors can also sign up to follow the Court system on Twitter to receive updates about court opinions and other court news throughout the state. Tennessee was of the first court systems in the country to start using Twitter more than two years ago. More than 2,000 people currently receive updates from the Court system via Twitter.
“We believe that using social media offers a great way to reach an expanded audience who may not otherwise seek information about the courts,” Clark said.
About the Access to Justice Initiative
In response to the growing civil legal needs gap in Tennessee, the Supreme Court made access to justice its number one strategic priority in 2008. The Court formally announced the Access to Justice Initiative in December 2008 and formed the Access to Justice Commission in April 2009. The Access to Justice Commission was tasked with creating a strategic plan, which was submitted to the Court on April 1, 2010, and unveiled to the public in June 2010. Since then, the Court hosted a pro bono summit in January 2011 and recently launched its new access to justice website.
News release from House Republican CaucusL:
(November 9, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Several members of the Tennessee House of Representatives have partnered with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) to promote their Hunters for the Hungry program by establishing the Hunters for the Hungry Legislative Challenge.
In this statewide contest, Members of the General Assembly will compete amongst themselves to ascertain which lawmaker can convince the most sportsmen in their district to contribute a Whitetail Deer to the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Hunters for the Hungry program. The challenge will commence on November 19, 2011 – opening day of the deer season in Tennessee.