Thursday, September 3, 2015

Haslam Privitization Moves Don;t Pass Smell Test...Crockett 9-3-15

A smell test for Haslam’s privatization plans

Haslam promotes ‘low-cost labor’ to foreign investors

Tennessee cannot build its way out of traffic congestion

AFP: Lots of legislators against gas tax, none for it

Americans for Prosperity says about a third of Tennessee’s 132 state legislators as declaring opposition to an increase in gas taxes while Gov. Bill Haslam tries to build support for doing something to increase revenue for road construction and maintenance.
The list, posted on the AFP website HERE, included 13 senators and 35 representatives Tuesday afternoon, a quick count indicates. All others were listed as not responding to AFP in its survey; no one was listed a supporting a gas tax increase. (Note: In the news release below, AFP says the total is 45. Apparently three more were added during the day Tuesday.)
Andy Sher notes that Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Tracy is one of those listed, though his quote sounds like Tracy is talking about only the 2016 session.
“I don’t think it’s doable,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “Because we’ve got a lot of work to do to put it together.”
The AFP also asked all nine members of Tennessee’s delegation to give their position on raising taxes and none had responded. Still, AFP counts U.S. Bob Corker as supporting a gas tax increase because he has introduced legislation that includes a hike in fuel tax levies. LINK

Haslam promotes ‘low-cost labor’ to foreign investors

While Republican Gov. Bill Haslam often states his goal of bringing “high-quality jobs” to Tennessee, a document produced by his administration suggests he may be less interested in making them high-paying positions.
The Commercial Appeal newspaper reports that the Haslam administration is touting the state internationally as a place with a “low-cost labor force” and “very low unionization rates.”
That description is part of a request for information posted on the state’s website on Monday for people and firms in Europe, Asia and South America interested in representing Tennessee’s economic development goals with foreign companies. LINK

A smell test for Haslam’s privatization plans

Gov. Bil Haslam’s plan for privatizing state parks and more state buildings is just the sort of deal that explains Donald Trump’s appeal to many Americans, opines columnist Frank Cagle.
Just how would a private company be able to operate state parks and other building maintenance cheaper than the state and still be able to make a profit? I think we all know the answer to that.
A company getting the contracts would likely hire immigrant workers to do the jobs, at slave wages and with no benefits. It is the only business plan that returns these bidders a profit and saves the state money. We are talking about people doing food service, janitors, landscapers and other maintenance jobs.
So the state parks and buildings would be maintained by Mexican or Somali immigrants while tax-paying Tennesseans will instead be on unemployment and TennCare? How does that save us money? When that state worker who has had the cushy job of cleaning the toilets is forced out, are they going to vote for Haslam fave Jeb Bush or Trump? LINK

Fight Over Education Dollars Could Turn Into Class Action Lawsuit

By week’s end, every school district in the state could be invited to jump in on a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of how the state funds education.

Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman said Wednesday she expects to rule by Friday whether to allow a lawsuit from seven school districts to expand to a class action against the state.

“There’s something missing from the story if we don’t have their story,” said Scott Bennett, a lawyer for Hamilton County Schools, at a court hearing asking for class action status.

Of 144 school districts in the state, eight have sued the state over education funding. The Shelby County Board of Education is the latest to take the state to court, filing its own suit arguing the state has shirked on its constitutional responsibility to “equitably and adequately fund public school education for all students.” Seven other school boards in the Chattanooga area banded together earlier this year behind another similar lawsuit, and are seeking to include all other districts that want in.

At the hearing, the state argued the case hasn’t met the necessary requirements to achieve class action status. LINK

Tennessee cannot build its way out of traffic congestion

The best measure of how much people want something is how much they are willing to pay for it.

As there are no tolls on Nashville roads, one major “cost” we pay for driving is time stuck in traffic.

By that measure, Middle Tennesseans want to drive very much as we tolerate long commute times and heavy traffic congestion.

When stuck in traffic, you have probably thought to yourself, “They should make this road wider and add more lanes. That would fix the problem.”

It seems logical. Unfortunately that’s not how road systems work. In reality, most road-widening projects do not relieve traffic congestion. They often make it worse.

We need to understand how the design of our road system influences the decisions people make. New road space creates “induced demand.”

Building more road capacity encourages people to drive more, either by taking more trips or by taking longer trips than they would have taken otherwise. Many drivers make small decisions, like an extra trip to the mall. Eventually some drivers make bigger decisions, like moving farther from work.

The cumulative effect of all of these decisions fills up the new road space and brings more cars onto the other unimproved parts of the road network, spreading more congestion. LINK

Trump's Bully Pulpit

The Dick Armey-organized, Koch brothers-funded Tea Party was once a fringe group of the Republican Party. Now, they run the show. The GOP created this beast on inauguration day when they plotted to destroy the Obama presidency — country be damned. So now they must feed the beast. Trump claims that his favorite book is the Bible, yet he can't remember a favorite passage. Here's one from Hosea 8:7, "They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind." Trump's stump speeches contain phrases like, "the Mexican people love me," "I have a great relationship with the blacks," and "we love the Ukrainians." I don't know if I'm listening to Donald Trump or Don Rickles. Political insiders scoff at the possibility of Trump winning the nomination, but this is the party that elected the twin disasters of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Trump is somehow elected president, he'll have to build a wall at the southern border to keep people in. "People are shocked at how smart I am," Trump says, as he carries on a Twitter war that makes him look more like a Real Housewife than a presidential candidate. He's sewn up the Duck Dynasty vote without putting forward a single intelligible program. When challenged on his plan to expel 11 million undocumented workers, Trump proclaimed, "We're going to deport them in a very humane fashion." I'm sorry, but isn't that what Hitler said? LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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