Tag Archives: foundation

TN Ranked 39th in Child Well-Being Study

News release from Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth:
Tennessee is 39th in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 National KIDS COUNT Data Book ranking of child well-being released today.
Rankings on 16 indicators are clustered in four domains — Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. Tennessee improved slightly on two domains, held steady on one, and dropped on another.
“Child well-being is a barometer of the current and future well-being of the state,” said Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, state affiliate of the KIDS COUNT program, “and while we are disappointed Tennessee’s 2013 composite ranking dropped from 36th in 2012 after three years of ‘best ever’ state rankings, we are pleased to see progress in several indicators.
“Emphasis on keeping children in school in Tennessee resulted in the state scoring better than the national average in the percent of high school students graduating on time and of children in families where the household head has a high school diploma.”

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TN Ranks 6th Among States in Reliance on Federal Funding

The Tax Foundation has done a listing of what percentage of states’ general revenue comes from federal aid. Tennessee comes in as the sixth most dependent on federal funding, which accounts for 44 percent of the state budget, according to the Tax Foundation.
From an emailed news release:
Mississippi relies more heavily on federal assistance than other states, with 49% of its total general revenue coming from federal aid. Close behind are Louisiana at 46.5% and Arizona at 45.7%. On the end of the spectrum, Alaska relies on federal aid for 24% of its general revenue, followed closely by Delaware at 25.9% and North Dakota at 26%.
A national map showing the rating of all state is HERE.

Fired UT Foundation Executive Had Past History of Child Molestation

A federal magistrate judge today ordered a former University of Tennessee Foundation executive to be jailed pending trial in a child pornography case, reports the News Sentinel.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley cited as a primary cause the fact that Bruce O. Downsbrough admitted to investigators that he had molested as many as five boys in the past.
“Taking away child pornography (as a condition of release) could actually increase the potential for contact offenses,” Shirley ruled.
Downsbrough, 60, who until last week was chief operating officer for the foundation, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child and sexual assault in the third degree in a 1986 Colorado case, according to testimony. The victims, according to testimony today, were ages 10 and 11.
Knoxville Police Department Investigator Tom Evans testified that Downsbrough told him he paid roughly $3,500 for counseling for the two boys.
In one case he was given a two-year deferred sentence, and the case was eventually dismissed. In the second case, he was sentenced to two years of probation, according to testimony.
It was not clear from testimony whether that conviction remains on his record.
A federal grand jury last week in East Tennessee returend a four-count indictment against Downsbrough alleging he either received in the mail or downloaded some 20,000 child pornography images as well as several videos.
His house in the Knoxville area was searched in November. He remained employed by the UT Foundation during a follow-up investigation. He was indicted last week and then terminated from his position as chief operating officer.

UT Foundation Executive Facing Child Porn Charges

From the News Sentinel:
A top officer over the University of Tennessee Foundation is facing federal child porn charges, accused of downloading and possessing illegal material on a laptop.
Bruce O. Downsbrough, the chief operating officer and executive vice president of the foundation, UT’s fundraising arm, was taken into custody Tuesday morning by agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Postal Service and authorities with the Knoxville Police Department.
He has been placed on administrative leave. The investigation does not appear to be related to his duties at UT, said spokeswoman Gina Stafford in statement.
He faces a four-count indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
The indictment alleges that on Dec. 4, 2008, Downsbrough downloaded child pornography. He is again accused of downloading the material on Feb. 8, 2009 and on an unspecified date in April 2012.
The charging document indicates that federal authorities searched Downsbrough’s home on Nov. 16, 2012. According to records, they discovered 19 digital video discs as well as images on a computer hard drive.

Full story HERE

Report Critiques Growth in TN School Administrators

Tennessee teachers could have gotten annual raises of $8,367 over an almost two-decade period, if school boards had curbed growth in the number of administrators they employ, says TNReport.
That’s the message in a new report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, based in Indianapolis.
The bump represents a 17.8 percent increase in pay on the $47,000 salary a typical Tennessee teacher takes home.
Using student population as the benchmark, the foundation examined growth in the central offices in school districts across America, from 1992 to 2009.
The number of non-teaching staff jumped 46 percent nationally, compared to a 17 percent increase in students – or less than half the rate of growth in the administrative ranks.
Tennessee closely followed the national trend line, with administrators and staff increasing 49 percent, compared to a 17 percent increase in students.
“As the dramatic growth of non-teaching staff in public schools shows, throwing more money at education is not the answer,” said Justin Owen, with the free-market Beacon Center in Nashville. The Beacon Center works with the Friedman Foundation to promote school choice.
….Tennessee would have realized more than $543.2 million in savings annually. Nationally, the figure was more than $24.2 billion annually.
To derive the teacher raises estimate, the foundation took the $543.2 million in savings, divided by the number of teachers in the state in 2009.

Some TN Schools Adding Class Time in National ‘Pilot Project’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.
A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state’s existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.

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Study says TN Has 3rd Lowest Tax Burden Among States

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A study by a conservative research organization reports that Tennesseans carry the third-lowest burden of state and local taxes.
The study by the Tax Foundation said Tennesseans pay an average of 7.7 percent in per capita income in taxes. The national average is 9.9. percent.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/TROUa3 ) reports that Tennessee gained one position, going from 47th to 48th lowest tax burden, between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2010. Only Alaska and South Dakota had lighter tax burdens in the study.
The ranking computes the total amount of state and local taxes paid by residents and then divides the total by each state’s total income.

UT Football Prayers OK, Officials Say

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee plans to continue allowing pregame prayers at Neyland Stadium after receiving a letter from an organization arguing that the practice is unconstitutional.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek asking that the university stop the use of prayer at university functions and sporting events. Cheek released a letter Wednesday in which he said he had discussed the matter with the school’s counsel and was told that “nonsectarian prayer at public university events does not violate the First Amendment.”
Cheek told the Wisconsin-based atheist group that he had given the issue “careful consideration” but that the school would continue to allow prayers before university events.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president, said the use of the word “nonsectarian” indicates that Tennessee shouldn’t have a clergyman conducting prayers with overt Christian references.
“They’ve been praying to Jesus and inviting clergy to come lead the prayer,” Gaylor said. “Nonsectarian would be (that) you wouldn’t have a member of the clergy who’s tied to a denomination, so they’re not going to talk about Jesus. They shouldn’t be talking about the Bible. In my opinion, they shouldn’t be praying at all.”
Gaylor added that she would encourage students upset with the university’s decision to remain active about the issue.
UT-Chattanooga decided last week to stop its use of a pregame prayer after receiving a similar letter. The public address announcer instead invites the crowd before the national anthem to observe a moment of silence “in consideration of the safety of today’s players, the service of those who protect us at home and abroad and the needs of those who suffer.”
“We didn’t want our events to be something that anyone felt excluded from,” UT-Chattanooga spokesman Chuck Cantrell said. “We recognize that we have a diverse community here in Chattanooga and especially on campus, and we just didn’t want to be doing anything that made any of our guests feel unwelcome. We felt a moment of silence offered equality and parity for everybody.”

Note: This updates and replaces earlier post.

TN Tops in Combined State & Local Sales Tax Rate

News release from Tax Foundation:
Washington, DC, July 31, 2012–California and Indiana have among the highest statewide sales taxes in the country, but Tennessee and Arizona take top billing when local sales taxes are added to the calculation, according to a new analysis by the Tax Foundation.
Hawaii, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, and Wisconsin have the lowest combined state and local rates. Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not levy sales taxes.
“Retail sales taxes are one of the more transparent ways to collect tax revenue, as statewide sales tax rates are generally well-understood by taxpayers. The local sales taxes collected in thousands of jurisdictions in 37 states, however, often are not,” said Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard. “These rates can be substantial, so a state with a moderate statewide sales tax rate can end up with a very high combined state and local rate.”
The states with the highest combined state-local rates are Tennessee (9.43 percent), Arizona (9.12 percent), Louisiana (8.86 percent), Washington (8.83 percent), and Oklahoma (8.68 percent). The states with the lowest non-zero combined rates are Alaska (1.79 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Maine (5.00 percent), Virginia (5.00 percent), and Wyoming (5.18 percent).

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‘Tax Freedom Day’ Came Earlier in TN Than Elsewhere

News release from Tax Foundation:
Washington, DC, April 4, 2012–Tax Freedom Day, the date on which Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state, and local levels, fell on March 31 for residents of Tennessee this year. The average date for all Americans, as announced this week by the Tax Foundation, will be Tuesday, April 17.
In the new study Tax Foundation Special Report No. 198, “Tax Freedom Day 2012,” economist Will McBride, Ph.D., also calculates how long Americans would have to work in order to close the budget deficit. In order to pay for all spending in the current year, the government would need to raise an additional $1.014 trillion in taxes, pushing Tax Freedom Day to May 14.
“This year, Americans will pay $2.62 trillion in federal taxes and $1.42 trillion in state-local taxes out of $13.86 trillion in income, for a 29.2% tax bill,” said McBride. “That means taxpayers will pay more in taxes in 2012 than they will spend on food, clothing, and housing combined.”
Historically, the date for Tax Freedom Day has fluctuated significantly. The latest-ever Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000–meaning Americans paid 33.0% of their total income in taxes. A century earlier, in 1900, Americans paid only 5.9% of their income in taxes, meaning Tax Freedom Day came on January 22.
Five major categories of taxes dominate the tax burden. Individual income taxes – including federal, state and local – require 40 days of work. Payroll taxes take another 23 days of work. Sales and excise taxes, mostly state and local, take 15 days to pay off. Property taxes take 12 days, and corporate income taxes take another 10.
The total tax burden borne by residents of different states varies considerably, not only due to differing state tax policies, but also because of the steep progressivity of the federal tax system. This means higher-income states celebrate Tax Freedom Day later; Connecticut (May 5), New Jersey (May 1), and New York (May 1) residents face a significantly higher total federal tax burden than lower-income states. Residents of Tennessee will bear the lowest average tax burden in 2012, with Tax Freedom Day arriving for them on March 31. Also early are Louisiana (April 1), Mississippi (April 1), South Carolina (April 3), and South Dakota (April 4).
For more information, go to http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday.
The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. To schedule an interview, please contact Richard Morrison, the Tax Foundation’s Manager of Communications, at 202-464-5102 or morrison@taxfoundation.org.