Tag Archives: justin

Record Sale of State Bonds Scheduled ($584 million)

News release from state comptroller’s office:
With its high credit ratings just reaffirmed, the State of Tennessee plans to sell an estimated $584 million worth of bonds next week – the largest sale in the state’s history.
Some of the bond proceeds will be used to pay for new capital projects and infrastructure, including economic development grants for Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Wacker Chemie in Bradley County, Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville and Electrolux in Memphis. Those projects are expected to create 4,650 new permanent jobs, plus thousands more construction jobs and jobs in related industries.
The proceeds will also finance improvements to various state-owned buildings and properties across Tennessee, including a new research building for the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus, a new library for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga campus, a prison in Bledsoe County, renovations to the Supreme Court building and other state office buildings in Nashville and a new driver license center in Memphis.
Bonds will also be issued to refund (refinance) outstanding bonds to take advantage of low interest rates. Over time, the refunded bonds could save the state up to $10 million in interest costs.
The sale includes both taxable and tax-exempt bonds. Tennessee buyers must pay federal taxes on the taxable bonds, but they are not required to pay the state’s Hall Income Tax on interest earnings.
“This sale represents an excellent opportunity for people to buy Tennessee bonds,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “The major rating agencies have reaffirmed, once again, that our state is financially well-managed and therefore has strong credit-worthiness. I’m pleased that these bonds will be used to pay for a variety of needs our citizens have, including economic development projects that will create badly-needed jobs. Also, this sale represents an opportunity for us to save taxpayer money by capitalizing on low interest rates.”
Earlier this week, two of the major New York bond rating agencies – Fitch and Moody’s Investors Services – reaffirmed Tennessee’s AAA rating, which is the highest rating available. The third major agency, Standard and Poor’s, reaffirmed Tennessee’s AA+ rating, the second highest rating available. Among other factors used in determining the ratings, the agencies praised Tennessee for its sound financial management practices, low debt burden, well-funded pension plan and adequate reserves. The rating agencies expressed some concerns about a possible reduction in federal funding and the overall health of the economy – factors which are largely beyond the state’s control.
The bond sale will be held from Oct. 11-13. More information about the sale is available at www.buyTNbonds.com. The state is using an aggressive strategy to market the bonds. Senior staff members taped a presentation to provide investors with an overview of the bond offering. The web site provides information on the brokerage firms participating in the sale, as well as instructions for first-time investors on how to purchase bonds, a link to the preliminary official statement and the taped investor presentation.
The previous record for a state bond sale was $389.635 million in 2009.

TCRP’s Pork Picks for 2010

In its sixth annual “pork report,’ the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has once again put together a listing of governmental spending deemed wasteful.
This year’s listing (covering 2010) includes such things as $140 million given to Electrolux for building a plant in Memphis (a big chunk of the $371 million total), grants from the Tennessee Solar Institute, a rebate for purchase of electric cars and $6.8 million to purchase land for conservation purposes.
From the TCPR news release (available HERE):
“Yet again, state and local governments failed to live up to taxpayers’ expectations by wasting their hard-earned money,” said Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. “With our economy in dire straits, the last thing government officials should be doing is offering handouts to corporations, dreaming up whimsical environmental programs, and using taxpayer money for their personal use. It’s time for them to become better stewards of Tennesseans’ money.”
The full “pork report” is available HERE.
UPDATE: For a different perspective on the pork report, see Cup of Joe Powell’s post on the matter.

Comptroller’s Audit Catches School Principle’s Alleged Theft, Misconduct

News release from state comptroller’s office:
A former Campbell County elementary school principal faces theft and official misconduct charges as a result of an investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit. A Campbell County grand jury indicted Sandra Chaniott, the former Jacksboro Elementary School principal, last week.
Auditors determined that Chaniott made a deal to sell her school 33 air purifiers, but she actually delivered only 12. The school paid more than $8,000 for the undelivered air purifiers.
Chaniott made a profit of more than $2,000 for the air purifiers she did deliver, which allowed her to personally benefit from a school contract.
Auditors also learned that when Chaniott served as principal at Caryville Elementary School, she sold that school 47 air purifiers. Assuming all of those air purifiers were delivered, Chaniott would have personally gained almost $7,000 from those sales.
The investigation also revealed that Chaniott had hired her son and another individual to paint the school without putting the work out for bid, which violated the Campbell County Board of Education purchasing policy. Chaniott also failed to report payments made to the painters to the Internal Revenue Service.
Also, auditors noted that the school’s bank account shrank from $44,000 to $4,000 during the first 13 months Chaniott served as the school’s principal.
“It is not acceptable for people in positions of trust to divert public money for their own personal gain or the gain of their family members or friends,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Money spent at schools should directly or indirectly benefit the students. It seems clear from our auditors’ report that wasn’t necessarily happening in all cases at Jacksboro Elementary School.”
To view the report online, go to:
http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/repository/MA/Investigative/jacksboroelementaryschool.pdf

Comptroller Hails Passage of Utility District Reform Bill (which he drafted)

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Comptroller Justin P. Wilson praised members of the General Assembly for approving legislation that will bring sweeping changes to the way utility districts operate and report information to the public.
“I have often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Comptroller Wilson said. “And this legislation will bring more information about utility districts into the sunlight. I want to thank all the members of the General Assembly who voted for these reforms, but particularly Sen. Ken Yager and Rep. Ryan Haynes, who sponsored the bill and worked to ensure its passage.”
“This bill is about accountability, whether we’re talking about water loss, expenditure of ratepayer funds or the selection process for the boards of directors of utility districts,” Sen. Yager said. “This legislation makes significant changes to the Utility District Law of 1937 that will give greater conformity across the state in the way we select our boards of directors and it will also ensure greater transparency and accountability.”

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