Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CPI BUZZ 6-10-2014

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New Knox charter school's connections run deep

Gov. Bill Haslam sits on the board of the local youth foundation that successfully applied to create Knox County’s first charter school.
But Haslam, who supports the idea of more charter schools in Tennessee, had no direct input on Emerald Academy, those close to the school proposal said. Nor did Haslam or those connected to him reach out to Knox County Schools officials during the vetting process for Emerald Academy, according to interviews by the News Sentinel.
Haslam is an honorary member of the board of trustees for the Emerald Youth Foundation, and so is Larry Martin, his longtime aide and current special adviser for state human resources. Click Here For More

States spending the Most and Least on education
9. Tennessee
> Spending per pupil: $8,294
> Total education spending: $9.0 billion (21st highest)
> Pct. with high school diploma: 85.1% (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $42,764 (7th lowest)
Tennessee allocated just $2,697 per pupil to to administrative, technical and logistical support, less than all but three other states. Low tax collections may limit how much Tennessee can spend on education. The state collected just $1,864 in taxes per resident in fiscal year 2012, among the lowest nationwide. One reason for this may be the state’s tax structure — Tennessee does not collect income taxes on earnings. Lower incomes in the state may also partly explain the low taxes. A typical household earned $42,764 in 2012, lower than all but a handful of states. Click Here For More

4 Tennessee VA Facilities Flagged For Further Review

Veterans Affairs facilities in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and McMinnville have been flagged for further review following a nationwide audit of the agency's troubled appointment process.
The audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics around the country found that a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable given the growing demand among veterans for health care and poor planning. The VA has since abandoned that goal.
Tennessee facilities in Memphis, Johnson City and Nashville were unable to schedule appointments within 30 days for about 7,000 veterans, or 3 percent of the total. Click Here For More

The middle class gets creamed again: Why CEO performance pay is awful for everyone but CEOs

Americans hate the fact that CEOs of big corporations keep raking in millions while the incomes of most American households are sinking. Now a new Roosevelt Institute white paper by University of Massachusetts economist William Lazonick adds to the growing case that soaring CEO pay is not just unfair, but harmful. It’s bad for businesses, workers, and taxpayers, and it’s one of the reasons that the economy remains sluggish.
Lazonick details the myriad ways that CEOs pump up their wages, painting a picture of crony capitalism in the board room and at the SEC. CEOs pad their boards of directors with other CEOs, who are all eager to hike each other’s pay. They hire from the same pool of compensation consultants, who then recommend to all of their boards why each of them deserves to be paid more.
Almost all executive pay, which was back to its pre-recession average high of $30 million a year by 2012, is delivered in the form of stock. This exploits a policy loophole that taxes compensation of more than $1 million unless it falls into the category known as “performance pay.” Meanwhile, the CEOs and their teams of lobbyists and lawyers have gotten a compliant SEC to issue a host of rulings that invite stock price manipulation. The resulting higher prices are considered proof of better performance, and also instantly deliver millions to the CEOs through their stock options. Very neat.
Lazonick explains that corporations’ favorite method of boosting stock prices is buying back their own stock. While a firm is required to notify the public of its intention to buy back its stock, it doesn’t have to say when it will do so, which fuels price-boosting speculation and allows the firm to time its repurchases to maximize the CEO’s gains. Click Here For More

Tennessee Board Of Regents Chief Takes National Role Backing Common Core

The chancellor of Tennessee’s Board of Regents is becoming more vocal about supporting Common Core – the K-12 education standards with a growing number of critics on both ends of the political spectrum.
John Morgan co-authored an editorial in theHuffington Post and is helping lead a national group of higher education chiefs.
He’s said it before, but primarily just to state lawmakers and education officials. Chancellor Morgan backs Common Core as a way to cut down on how many remedial courses state schools have to offer when students get to college unprepared.
Morgan says Common Core could “reduce the alarming trend” of rising college dropout rates.
He co-authored the editorial with the head of New York’s state universities. The two are leading a coalition of 200 university officials from around the country. The group called the Collaborative for Student Success is intended to shore up support for Common Core, which has come under attack from the left and the right. Click Here For More

More Tennessee women getting handgun permits

The number of gun permits issued in Tennessee has nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the state issued 192,613 handgun carry permits in 2013. Of that 58,833 were given to women and 133,780 were given to men. Compare that to 2012. That year the state issued a total of 114,031 permits. 32,354 were given to women and 81,677 were given to men. Click Here For More

Tipped Into Poverty

When Senate Republicans recently blocked a vote to raise the federal minimum wage, they snubbed the estimated 27.8 million people who would earn more if the measure became law. The hardest hit are the roughly 3.3 million Americans who work for tips, nearly three out of four of whom are women. Workers in predominantly tipped jobs — including restaurant servers, bartenders, hairstylists — are twice as likely as other workers to live below the poverty line. They need a raise, and Congress should give it to them.
The current minimum wage for such workers, $2.13 an hour, has not been raised since 1991 — testament to the power of the restaurant industry. For nearly 30 years after the minimum wage was first instituted, in 1938, restaurant owners were exempt, and waiters and waitresses had to live on tips alone. Now, an employer of tipped workers is in compliance with the law as long as $2.13 plus tips equals at least $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage for other workers. The Democratic proposal rejected by Republicans called for the tipped wage to rise gradually so that by 2020 it would equal 70 percent of the proposed new minimum of $10.10 an hour, adjusted annually for inflation.
The puniness of the tipped wage is not the only problem. One of the most prevalent wage violations found by the Department of Labor is the failure by employers to adequately “top up” wages when tips do not work out to at least $7.25 an hour. Violations also include failing to pay the full minimum wage when tipped workers spend considerable time on cleaning, cooking or other nontipped work, as well as requiring servers to share their tips with other employees who do not typically receive tips. Click Here For More

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