News release from comptroller’s office:
The Comptroller’s office has released the semiannual State of Tennessee Indebtedness Report, which can be viewed online at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/sl/
The report provides an overview of the state’s debt for the period from Dec. 31, 2011 until June 30, 2012 and other debt-related activities for fiscal year 2012.
During the period, the state’s overall indebtedness decreased by about $257 million. Also, refinancing of some debt created a present value savings of $61 million. And the state maintained high bond ratings from the country’s three major rating agencies.
“This report contains good news for the taxpayers of Tennessee,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Our state has low debt, high credit ratings and well-managed finances. With the strong fiscal leadership provided by the General Assembly, we certainly expect those positive trend lines to continue.”
Along with a $266,000 rooftop sign and $500,000 for a museum in Virginia, a self-proclaimed government watchdog group Tuesday included “corporate welfare” to businesses in a listing of Tennessee pork barrel spending.
This year’s “Tennessee pork report” includes $40 million in “headquarters relocation assistance” to companies moving their main offices to Tennessee, a $1.5 million grant to General Motors and $2 million to “incentivize production of TV shows and movies” within the state as examples of wasteful spending of tax dollars.
Gov. Bill Haslam, perhaps not unexpectedly, disagreed with the categorization when questioned by reporters.
“The truth is, in economic development, we live in a very competitive world. We’re not going to just unilaterally disarm” by ending state financial support to new or expanding businesses, Haslam said.
He added that “government waste has our full attention,” though “government waste is obviously defined differently by different people.”
The Beacon Center of Tennessee definition in this year’s “pork report” includes:
-$266,000 given by the state to Volkswagen to put a sign atop its Chattanooga plant that is visible only from the air, also characterized as “corporate welfare.” It’s near the Chattanooga airport, but Beacon Center said that only about 500 people per day fly in or out of the airport.
-The $500,000 grant included in the coming year’s state budget at the urging of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for a “Birthplace of Country Music” museum in Bristol, Va., just across the Tennessee state line. “That just goes to show state government waste doesn’t stop at the state line,” said Justin Owen, president of Beacon Center.
-$1.5 million spend on “a mansion and lavish furnishings” by the Upper Cumberland Development District, which was designated “pork of the year.” According to television news reports, the organization’s executive director, Whitney Askins, moved into the mansion, though it was designated to serve as housing for needy seniors. She has since been placed on administrative leave.
-$1.3 million in deficit spending at state-owned golf courses.
Beacon Center said it had listed $468 million in “pork,” up from $371 million in last year’s “pork report.: Most involves state government – ranging from such large items as $25 million for building a West Tennessee “megasite” for industry recruitment to a $50,000 grant to the National Folk Festival, held in Nashville.
But it also includes local government projects, ranging from a collective $22 million in deficit annual spending by various city and county government entities to a $5.8 million property tax break Nashville Metro government gave Dollywood Co. and Gaylord Entertainment for development of a water park in Nashville.
News release from SCORE:
(Nashville) — The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) today released a report, Supporting Effective Instruction in Tennessee, regarding Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system. The report follows a five-month listening and feedback process SCORE led on the evaluation system to identify what is working well, gather input on challenges and concerns, and report back with a range of recommendations to the Tennessee Department of Education and State Board of Education.
“SCORE’s role in this process has been to listen,” SCORE President and CEO Jamie Woodson said. “It is our hope that this report and its recommendations will build on key successes of the new teacher evaluation system and support improvements moving forward, while always keeping the focus on what it takes to improve student achievement in our state.”
Research shows that effective teaching is the most important school-based factor in improving student achievement. Tennessee is now completing the first year of implementing a new teacher evaluation system, designed to identify and support effective teaching.
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released its annual study dedicated to crime in Tennessee’s schools. Produced by TBI’s Crime Statistics Unit, the study spans a three-year period between 2009 and 2011 and is based on numbers submitted by Tennessee law enforcement agencies to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS). The state’s first ever school crimes study was released in May of 2009.
The reported number of crimes that occurred at schools decreased by 5.5% from 2010 to 2011 and there was an overall decrease of 6.7% between 2009 and 2011. There were 12,435 crimes reported at schools in 2011 compared to 13,155 in 2010. This report is based on incidents submitted by law enforcement agencies and excludes offenses reported by colleges and universities. Those statistics are compiled in TBI’s “Crime on Campus” report that was released earlier this year.
“School Crimes Report” Quick Facts
2.2% of all crimes reported in the state occurred at a school.
Simple assault was the most frequently reported crime at 4,593 offenses.
Crimes against persons decreased by 4.3% and crimes against property decreased by 8.2%.
More crimes occurred on Friday than any other day of the week and most resulted in no injury to the victim.
47% of the time, the relationship between the offender and victim was acquaintance.
The most reported arrestee gender was male at 73%.
It is important to understand the characteristics surrounding school crime and its offenders and victims. This understanding will help schools, policy makers, law enforcement and the public learn how to better combat crime that occurs at these institutions. To view the “School Crimes Report” for 2011 in its entirety, go to the TBI website at www.tbi.tn.gov. Click on “Crime Statistics” from the homepage, then click on the “Statistical Analysis Center” fly-out. The study is listed under “Specialized Reports” on the Statistical Analysis Center webpage.
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released the “Crime in Tennessee 2011” report which showed a 1.7% decrease in overall crimes reported in Tennessee in 2011 compared with 2010. This is third year in a row that reported offenses decreased when compared with the previous year.
For the 2011 calendar year, 576,844 Group A offenses were reported compared with 586,714 in 2010. The largest majority of crimes reported were committed against property at more than 58% which is a decrease of 2.5% from the previous year. Crimes against persons also decreased approximately 2%, however, crimes against society increased 3%. With an estimated population of more than 6.3 million people, Tennessee has seen crime drop a total of 4.6% since 2009.
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today released the “Crime on Campus 2011” report which shows a slight increase of crime statewide on Tennessee’s campuses after a decrease in reported offenses for 2010. Prior to 2010, the state saw a decrease of crime on campus every year between 2004 and 2008 with a slight increase in 2009.
There were 7,493 offenses reported in 2011 compared with 7,190 in 2010, a 4.2% increase overall. Violent crime was also up nearly 20% for a second year in a row.
Overview of Reported Offenses
§ Drug/Narcotics and drug equipment violations have increased yearly since 2008 for a total increase of approximately 47% with 2010 to 2011 having the largest increase of nearly 26%. There were 772 of these type of offenses reported in 2011.
§ There was a 47% increase in forcible sex offenses reported from the previous year and an increase in the number of reported rapes with 20 reported overall.
§ 37% of all 2011 offenses reported were categorized as larceny/theft which is an increase from 2010. However, there was an overall decrease of 3% since 2009.
§ Overall, assault offenses increased by 6.5% with aggravated assaults being down and simple assaults increasing.
§ Theft of motor vehicle offenses have declined nearly 25% since 2009.
§ DUI violations have decreased 25% since 2008.
The TBI publishes the annual Crime on Campus report pursuant to the 1989 College and University Security Information Act enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly. All colleges and universities are mandated to report crime statistics to TBI in an effort to assist law enforcement, institution administrations and government officials in planning their efforts to fight crime and applying crime prevention strategies.
To view a full copy of the “Crime on Campus 2011” report, including statistics from each individual institution, go to www.tbi.tn.gov and click on “Statistical Analysis Center” from the “Tennessee Crime Statistics” button on TBI’s homepage.
News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today released the Regulatory Reform Report, an ECD-led review of federal and state rules and regulations impacting businesses. One of the key strategies of the governor’s Jobs4TN economic development plan was to conduct this review with the goal of identifying obstacles to investment.
“To reach our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, we must always be focused on strengthening our attractive business climate to attract and grow Tennessee jobs,” Haslam said. “This regulatory review process was important to identify areas for improvement both through internal and external evaluations.”
In conducting the review, ECD surveyed Tennessee business leaders, advocacy groups and state departments to identify federal and state laws, regulations and processes that could have a negative impact on economic development and job creation in the state.
“I want to thank those who gave of their time and participated in the regulatory review process, including Tennessee businesses, local stakeholders and our fellow state government departments. Their cooperation and feedback were essential to producing the Regulatory Reform Report,” Hagerty said. “Identifying areas where there are opportunities for improvement is the first step in streamlining and modernizing our regulatory environment and better serving the people and businesses of our state.”
The report suggests a number of recommendations, which include:
News release from Tennesseans for Fair Taxation:
Knoxville, Tennessee – A comprehensive new study that profiles 265 consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies finds that International Paper, with global headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, paid -1% overall in state corporate income taxes in 2008-10. The company reported $1.6 billion in gross earnings in its 2010 Annual Report, with $25.3 billion in assets.
These are among the findings in “Corporate Tax Dodging in the Fifty States, 2008-2010” released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) in conjunction with Tennesseans for Fair Taxation. The report finds a total of 68 companies that paid no state corporate income tax in at least one of the last three years and 20 of them, including International Paper, averaged a tax rate of zero or less during the 2008-2010 period. The corporate income tax rate in Tennessee is 6 percent.
Tennessee-based companies Eastman Chemical, Community Health Systems, AutoZone, FedEx, and Dollar General were also named in the report for having corporate tax rates of less than 3% overall from 2008-10. By contrast, because of Tennessee’s reliance on the sales tax and tax on food, low-income Tennesseans pay almost 12% of their income in taxes. Tax avoidance practices by multi-state, multinational corporations also shift tax responsibilities onto locally owned and operated companies that manage to pay their taxes and create jobs for Tennesseans, and distort the way companies operate through the use of tax avoidance schemes.
Tennessee’s latest “report card” on student performance in schools, which showed a dramatic drop last year after a change in standards, indicates that students are posting gains — from 49 percent to 55 percent passing high school math, for example, and from34 percent to 41 percent passing the subject in grades 3-8.
From the Tennessean’s report on the report:
The state released Friday’s statewide report card with little fanfare compared with past years — just an email to media that the scores were live on the Department of Education’s website. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman wasn’t available to offer his analysis.
That may be because the report card, set up under federal No Child Left Behind measurements, could be moot within weeks.
Tennessee filed a waiver request with the U.S. Department of Education asking to use its own school accountability plan that will have less-severe penalties and will judge schools based on learning gains instead of pass-or-fail.
Also, the state released major portions of the report card earlier this year, including a list of schools that didn’t make adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. Nearly half of schools missed testing goals after a quarter missed them in 2010.
While Tennessee’s scores on what is known as the Nation’s Report Card in education remained the same, the City Paper notes the performance of other states improved, dropping the volunteer state’s national ranking.
The Tennessee Department of Education on Tuesday released its results in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, showing no statistical change in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores.
The state dropped from 45th to 46th in the nation in fourth-grade math; from 39th to 41st in fourth-grade reading; from 43rd to 45th in eighth-grade math; and from 34th to 41st in eighth-grade reading. Also according to the results, 26 percent of fourth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 30 percent are proficient in math. Twenty-seven percent of eighth-grade students are proficient in reading, while 24 percent are proficient in math.
Note: News release below