Tag Archives: ownership

Corker: Don’t Sell TVA… But Maybe Give It Away

Tennessee Valley Authority might be better off severed from Uncle Sam, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tells the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Corker said he isn’t pushing to sell TVA to try to cut the federal debt, as President Obama proposed last month in his fiscal 2014 budget plan. With nearly $25 billion in debt, TVA probably wouldn’t fetch enough from buyers to pay what it owes, Corker said.
But new approaches for TVA, including converting the agency to a nonprofit corporation or transferring ownership to TVA distributors and customers, might help improve the utility, Corker said.
“I’ve not been comfortable with the federal government involvement with TVA and thinking that that is going to lead TVA to a great place,” Corker told the Times Free Press in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I worry that over time the fact that TVA is controlled by the federal government but in a laissez-fair manner could leave it less and less as an identity to drive economic growth in our state.”
Corker is splitting with most other Tennesseans in the Congress who have balked at a proposal in the Obama budget plan to conduct a strategic study on cutting TVA loose from the federal treasury.
“Reducing or eliminating the federal government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require federal participation, can help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path,” the White House says in its budget plan.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said that spinning off the nation’s largest public utility could mean higher electricity prices for the seven states that the authority serves. Just the talk about selling TVA has hurt its bond values and raised TVA’s effective borrowing costs, Alexander said.
Even U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican who denounced Obama a “socialist” in January, said the president’s suggestion to privatize TVA is “unsupportable and inexplicable.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority no longer receives any federal funds and is an independent federal corporation that relies entirely upon electric ratepayers to fund its $11 billion-a-year budget. TVA does enjoy the implied backing of the federal government through its federal ownership, which helps the agency maintain a top bond rating and borrow money at a lower rate than do private utilities
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On the Guns of TN Congressmen

All six members of the Tennessee congressional delegation — Republicans and Democrats — who responded to a survey said they own guns, bucking a trend in Congress in which Republican members are much more likely to be armed than their Democratic colleagues.
From The Tennessean:
Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, along with GOP Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg and Phil Roe of Johnson City all said they own guns. But so did the state’s two Democratic representatives, Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis.
Four members of the delegation — Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and GOP Reps. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Diane Black of Gallatin and John Duncan Jr. of Knoxville — declined to participate in the USA TODAY survey. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, did not respond to the survey question.
Black said she would not answer the question for “safety” reasons and Alexander says his gun ownership is a “private matter.” Cooper reported having a carry permit, as did Blackburn, while Cohen said he owned a .38-caliber handgun.
DesJarlais said he owns several deer rifles and shotguns. Roe and his wife, Pam, both have permits to carry concealed guns, according to spokeswoman Tiffany McGuffee.

Haslam’s Incentives Secrecy Bill to Be Revised?

The bill sought by Tennessee economic development officials allowing them to keep secret the names of business owners getting taxpayer-funded development grants, tax credits and other aid appears headed back to the drawing board, reports Richard Locker.
The top two legislative leaders (Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell) both said today that the bill is being retooled because taxpayers have a right to know who is getting state economic incentives, including the owners of privately held companies.
…”Commissioner Hagerty, the governor and the people at ECD (Department of Economic and Community Development) want to make the most informed decisions they possibly can, and businesses are not going to divulge this information when they may not even get the grant if it’s not kept out of the public view until the proper time,” Ramsey, R-Blountville, said.
“And so what we decided today (is), I want to make it very clear – and I don’t think it is real clear —that should these people – any business or company – get a grant or get ‘Fast Track’ money or whatever it might be, that the information is divulged at that time. That’s the intent but I don’t think it’s in the bill. We want to make sure that is in the bill. That’s how I want the bill to be and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
Ramsey said he specifically means that owners of grant-receiving companies should be public record.
Harwell, R-Nashville, agreed. “We did discuss that. I think that this bill is still a work in progress…. Private companies just don’t want all that information divulged and that’s understandable. On the other hand, citizens have the right to know how their tax dollars are used and spent and I think we will come up with what will be pleasing to both groups.”

Online:
Read SB2207 at http://capitol.tn.gov.

Haslam Defends Keeping Secret Ownership of Companies Getting State Grants

Gov. Bill Haslam Wednesday defended his legislative efforts to make secret the names of business owners getting millions of state taxpayer dollars to build or expand in Tennessee.
More from Richard Locker:
The bill, set for a Senate floor vote this morning, would expand confidentiality provisions already in state law regarding the proprietary information of companies awarded taxpayer-funded incentives to include the names of owners of privately held companies.
The Senate vote on SB 2207 was delayed Monday after state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, argued that taxpayers deserve to know who’s getting their tax money and that secrecy could lead to corruption. Meanwhile, the president of the Nashville Tea Party and a co-founder of Tennessee Tax Revolt called the bill an “absurdity.”
“We’re absolutely opposed to it,” said Ben Cunningham of Nashville. “It’s an insult to every taxpayer in the state. It’s crazy to demand secrecy when you’re giving away taxpayer money. It’s going to get to the point where giveaways are done for political contributions or personal favors. It’s happened in other states, and it’s an open invitation to that kind of corruption.”
But Haslam told reporters Wednesday his economic development officials want the bill to protect Tennessee’s competitiveness with other states in the cutthroat business of industrial recruiting, where companies play states against each other to maximize the taxpayer funding they get to build or expand operations.
“I think ECD’s (the Department of Economic and Community Development) feelings are that in a very competitive world out there, we’re competing with other states, that (public disclosure of ownership interests) would put us at a disadvantage,” the governor said.
Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty say they want the bill so they can require businesses seeking state incentives to turn over sensitive information to state officials analyzing whether to award them the state cash grants, tax incentives or credits. They said businesses won’t produce the information if the state must make it public.

Note: The News-Sentinel has an editorial today opposing the bill.

Haslam Bill to Hide Corporate Ownership Stalls in Senate Debate

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republicans have backed off — at least temporarily — of Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to seal off information about companies seeking economic
development grants after an impassioned debate between supporters and Democratic Sen. Roy Herron, who demanded to know why ownership records would not be made available to the public.
The measure, carried by Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson, was delayed Monday evening until Thursday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Commerce Committee.
Haslam has called for the public records changes as part of his plan to offer more cash incentives for companies to invest in Tennessee.
The bill closes off information regarding “business processes, organizational structure and ownership, financial statements, budgets, cash flow reports or similar materials.”

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