Wednesday, August 19, 2015

With an Extra Half Billion Dollars Collected Haslam Orders Budgets Cut 3.5% Buzz for 8-19-15

Haslam defends tentative step toward more privatization

Lawmaker says he's growing concerned about safety in Tennessee

Oligarchy Of Super PAC Megadonors Have Conquered American Politics

Tennessee agencies asked to prepare budgets with 3.5% cut

Tennessee state agencies need to prepare budgets this year with a 3.5 percent cut compared with last year, according to a new directive from the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam.
The news comes at a time when the state general fund has half a billion dollars more than anticipated, but the state faces mounting road projects and is exploring outsourcing facilities management at a wide array of state facilities. LINK

Haslam defends tentative step toward more privatization

Gov. Bill Haslam defended his decision to look for companies interested in taking over facilities management at Tennessee prisons, colleges, state parks, National Guard sites and other buildings, reports The Tennessean.
“What we’re trying to solve is, we spend a lot of money on our facilities, in rent and maintenance and other ways. Can we provide that same function at a lower cost?” Haslam told reporters Tuesday.
“No matter what you’re running, you should ask, ‘Are we doing this the best way possible?'”
…On Tuesday, Haslam argued the JLL contract was leading to increased efficiencies that have saved the state $10 million. He said that money could be spent on issues like education and health care.
…Haslam stressed the process is in the early stages, and the state is merely exploring its options.
“I’d ask the Democrats and everybody else: let’s wait and see. Let’s wait and see what the results are. The easy political thing is (to say), ‘Oh, they’re against public employees.’ That’s not true,” Haslam said
However, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis reports large, out-of-state vendors are touring state parks this week in connection to possibly outsourcing management of their facilities. LINK

Lawmaker says he's growing concerned about safety in Tennessee

week after Commissioner Derrick Schofield assured lawmakers about the safety of Tennessee prisons, the I-Team found a video posted on an inmate’s Facebook page showing a fire set inside a state prison.
The video was likely taken from a contraband cell phone.
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said he is growing more and more concerned.
“It’s going to be a public safety problem, in addition to an incredibly unfair situation for the employees,” Stewart said.
Tuesday, Stewart sent a letter to Schofield asking questions about staffing rosters from two prisons showing higher numbers of vacant jobs than what the commissioner presented to lawmakers in last week’s legislative hearing.
Stewart also asked about what the I-Team first exposed last year. Former wardens, along with correctional officers, said incidents of assault on staff are being deleted and reclassified to lesser offenses to improve statistics. LINK

The dark side of Donald Trump: How gridlock leads to dangerous populism & authoritarian zeal

Of the many ways Donald Trump has distinguished himself from his fellow Republican presidential candidates, his flamboyant xenophobia and protectionism have garnered the most attention. And that was still the case this past weekend, when the billionaire real estate mogul, reality television star and “cherisher” of women went on “Meet the Press” to tell host Chuck Todd that a President Trump would work hard to deport more than 11 million people. “We’re going to keep the families together,” Trump promised. But only so long as they understood that regardless of what the 14th Amendment might say, these American-born children of immigrants would “have to go,” too.
As my colleague Joan Walsh has pointed out already, this is a prescription for turning the entire country into a charnel house for civil rights that would make today’s Arizona seem comparatively benign. If the policy were truly enforced with the kind of rigor that Trump promises and his supporters crave, the result would be “a massive police state,” as Walsh puts it. The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would increase three-fold under Trump; and anyone who still failed to understand President Trump’s message would be encouraged to look no further than the southern border, where a giant wall would stand and carry on the Berlin and West Banktradition.
The racial hue of Trump’s vision is obvious, and it’s understandable that commentators are inclined to see Trumpism through that lens. But there was another important Trump-related media development over the weekend. It was a stellar piece by the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel, who recently spent some time in Flint, Michigan, talking to some of “the Donald’s” biggest fans. And while nostalgia for an era when whiteness meant more than it does today was common, Weigel’s piece suggests that racial anxiety isn’t the main reason these folks are embracing Trump. What they like about him, it appears, is that he is a more convincing authoritarian. LINK

Oligarchy Of Super PAC Megadonors Have Conquered American Politics

A new oligarchic era of American politics came into full view on Friday, as super PACs disclosed fundraising details showing billionaires bankrolling the 2016 presidential race to an unprecedented degree.
The unlimited-money super PACs account for one-third of all federal election funds raised in the first half of 2015 -- up from 4 percent at this time in the last presidential election. Three-quarters of all super PAC money came from more than 500 wealthy donors, corporations and unions in contributions above $100,000. More than half the money in the presidential race so far -- to super PACs and to campaigns -- came from donors who have given at least $100,000.
For the first time in more than a century, the majority of funding for a presidential election is coming in six-figure or larger checks from corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The presidential campaigns, limited to a maximum of $5,400 from a single donor, raised a combined $128 million. Super PACs supporting those candidates pulled in $260 million, with $208 million from those giving $100,000 or more.
“The 2016 presidential candidates and their individual-candidate Super PACs are wiping out the nation’s anti-corruption candidate contribution limits,” Democracy 21 president and longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer said in a statement. “In doing so, the presidential candidates and the Super PACs supporting them are creating the kind of system that the Supreme Court has described as an inherently corrupt system.” LINK

Why Don't We Outsource Rich People?

sn't it funny how cost-saving measures are always borne by the people at the bottom of the pay scale? You notice they're never like "Hey, has anyone noticed that we have two different higher education systems in this state? Couldn't all public institutions be brought under one system?" because people would stroke out. We must have a Chancellor and a President and this Board and that Board and these sets of bureaucrats to serve this system and those sets of bureaucrat to serve that system, even if they're doing the same thing. Those folks are always safe.
Or, hey, want to save some money, Governor Haslam? Outsource college sports. Why should taxpayers be paying the salaries of people in athletic departments directly? There's a lot of money in college sports, so surely some outside firm would like to bid on taking care of running our athletic departments and supplying us with coaches and coaching staffs at great savings to taxpayers. Oh, right, of course not. That doesn't make any sense.
The people who are expendable are the ones who can't afford to be buddies with the Governor. Their jobs aren't any less important than anyone else's—though, let me tell you, it's a lot easier to be on a campus with a crappy football team than it is to be on a campus with a crappy maintenance staff—they just lack clout. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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