published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Tennessee state agencies ordered to plan for 30 percent cut in federal funds

NASHVILLE — State agencies have been ordered to submit plans next week outlining how they will deal with up to 30 percent cuts in federal aid.

Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes said in a letter dated Thursday that because about 40 percent of Tennessee’s $30.8 billion 2011-2012 budget is comprised of federal aid, bond-rating agencies have requested the information in light of deficit and debt reduction plans passed earlier this month.

“While it is not possible for the state to know now what specific program reductions will be implemented by the federal government, we must plan,” Emkes said in the letter, addressed to all agency heads and budget officers.

Agencies have been asked to submit plans for how they would cut their budgets by 15 percent and 30 percent based on federal-aid reductions.

“In developing the plans, you must assume that state revenues will not be used to maintain federal programs at the current funding level,” Emkes wrote. “That is, you are not to supplant federal funds with state revenues as a funding source for continuing services.”

Emkes, state Treasurer David Lillard and other officials met in New York last with bond rating agencies Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch in New York as the state seeks to keep the agencies from downgrading its top ratings on its debt. That came after Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded U.S. government debt.

Officials are expected to go back in September.

The recently passed Budget Control Act of 2011 raised the nation’s debt ceiling but calls for huge cuts over the next decade. The initial phase calls for $900 billion in savings while a 12-member group of U.S. House and Senate Republicans and Democrats are expected to hammer out another $1.5 billion in reductions by November.

Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
328Kwebsite said...

Another Republican ploy to avoid blame while pocketing profits. Asking departments to slash their own budgets will lead to step 2: demanding those reductions regardless of what the US Congress does.

It's what happens when we elect Big Oil toolies like Governor Haslam. It's what happens when locals quit their post without being properly relieved to take executive jobs at State while ignoring their duties to elected office. It's what happens when local Republicans pay themselves off by appointing themselves and their friends to a local money laundering scheme that takes tax dollar cash directly out of government accounts and puts it directly into their ad budgets.

Considering that hiring Republican cronies has cost us several million dollars locally, we are aware that the greatest money saving measure available is to fire local rich Republicans from public office. That includes removing them from offices to which they were not elected.

For example: Bob Corker's former right hand man, now county chief of staff, has cost us the jobs of five deputies. Average worker pay in this area? About 1/5 of his $125,000 salary.

$328,000 website payout to a design firm with ties to former Mayor Jon Kinsey.

$500,000 for a hostile replacement of the school superintendent. That is, $500,000 off-budget and beyond what Superintendent Scales' contract called for.

Continual fiascoes and distrust of the populace toward offices that used to be associated with concepts like "routine stability" or maybe even "integrity." Now, government office is rich boy welfare for country club Republicans.

One area where Tennessee's costs will dramatically increase if the federal government slashes aid will be with the Tennessee Department of Law Enforcement and the Military.

While cronies like Mayor Littlefield's staff have done what they could to whine and complain, the reality is that an overwhelming majority of our major services, updates and improvements have been directly paid for through re-fitting programs related to our continuous wartime deployments.

Since 2001, we have continuously deployed our Guardsmen to war. That means we have also, during that entire time, received payments of equipment and money for our services to the US.

The US has covered our state military costs in a big way ever since 9/11.

This means that for the past 10 years, Tennessee Republicans have failed to see, much less cope with, the true cost of our law enforcement and military services. Massive refittings have been financed as a direct result of our wartime efforts. Millions of dollars have been spent on equipment in our state: equipment our taxpayers would normally provide.

Similar support has gone to direct payroll support. Yet, we see Tennessee officials whine and block basic veteran's services for returning Guardsmen.

August 19, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

One such service is unemployment compensation. If a Guardsman returns home from war to no job, he receives no unemployment compensation because during the outprocessing routine he is placed on six hours of state service. This means that the state does not need to pay him unemployment insurance after a war, as it does to returning federal troops.

I know this, because that is what happened to me.

Look at our existing budgets, and it's obvious that this 30% cut claim is a ploy. In practice, just because we have a reduction in 30% of federal aid coming in does not -- does not -- mean that there will be a smooth and corresponding 30% decrease in our ability to provide service.

In the case of military equipment and personnel and security service upgrades, for example, the aid reduction could easily result in a massive differential. From almost no state spending to keep up with equipment maintenance to massive multi-million dollar outlays to replace consumed major end items, like trucks, tanks and helicopters, that get worn out over time, for instance.

If the directive were accurate, then it would be to assess the potential impact first. Then, come up with a plan.

We should know and understand and tell our fellow voters about yet another manipulative ploy on the part of government-destroying Republicans in office. It is clear that they are working the system to slash and burn essential services.

Those services their approach, outlined above, will immediately damage includes our defense readiness. Notice how unlikely it is that Big Oil self-exempting Governor Haslam will be about raising taxes in order to maintain basic military and law enforcement readiness.

Instead, we've seen a Republican party that will tinker with some BS over parking police cars rather than be straight with the public about law enforcement and military costs in this area.

We expect massive cost increases that will need to be either supported by tax increases, or face decay.

We are confident that Governor Haslam will imitate other Tennessee Republicans in office in our area: he will promote decay. Rather than providing services to the people, they will instead favor pocketing money for big business cronies while exploiting the common people. That includes the common people who serve in the military and law enforcement communities.

No wonder they did not ask for a cost accounting assessment based on the observed conditions. It's much easier to ask officials to destroy their own departments.

The best way for us to save money is to throw Republicans out of office as soon as elections will allow.

August 19, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Richard S; I have to disagree, Even after they lose an election, they still get to vote and work for Faux News. There are NO GOOD REPUBLICANS, breathing.

August 19, 2011 at 3:35 p.m.
harrystatel said...

As long as people think it's a Republican or Democrat causing the problems, they'll be the same results.

It's just one party--the party of Power. Whether you're killed by Republican wars or taxed to death by Democrats doesn't matter. You're still dead.

Fight the powers, question authority always, and keep your guns handy. Self-defense against criminals, whether Republicans, Democrats, street thugs, and the State is a valid defense.

And remember jury nullification.

August 19, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
rolando said...

Always remember jury nullification.

Actually, the loss of federal funds might not be such a bad thing when you think about it.

How many [expensive] mandates does the federal government force on us using the club of denial of funds for some unrelated project? Loss of EPA funding if our air is over their standard, for instance. Loss of highway funds if we don't obey their fiat? School funding if we don't knuckle under to their God-awful Dept of Ed rules? Coal-burning, cheap, safe, power production.

We need to wean ourselves from this dependency and start doing what we, Tennesseans, want done and stop begging for a handout dribble from better-than-thou Washington.

August 19, 2011 at 8:31 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

40% of Tennessee's budget is funded by the Feds? That is a big problem in itself.

August 19, 2011 at 9:25 p.m.
fairmon said...


I agree that 40% of the state budget being federally funded is a major problem. You can bet it is not unique to TN but repeated fifty times with some states more than 40% dependent. The federal governments use of grants, subsidies, incentives, deductions and other tools of manipulation has essentially destroyed the sovereignty of states and bankrupt the country. Local and state governments have anxiously given up control by prostituting themselves to the federal government.

Both parties have participated in voter pandering by shifting financial obligations to the future without recognizing it as debt. Check out the level of unfunded pension obligations locally and at the state level. Those anticipating local and state pensions should be concerned enough to know if they are fully funded. As we may soon learn, bonds are debt and the states and locals claiming they have a balanced budget is very misleading.

August 20, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

How much of that funding is generated by our participation in wars, and our sale of electricity to others? Also, are government institutions like Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac taking advantage of our state's banking laws, as many corporations are?

When we let spin doctors working for the governor control the question, the answers we provide just help them lead us down the path. In other words, it's a rigged question. Further, it's a loaded question designed to carry us to their predetermined conclusion. That's why it's so important to their premise that we skip over their assumptions of just what that funding base is.

Warfare. Electricity. Banking.

Instead, they paint the question to look like we are freeloaders living on the dole: not true. Tennessee is much more likely to be receiving those federal monies because we are providing the US with that much more service than other states.

Where is Georgia's contribution to the electrical grid? Virginia is so short on electricity production that one of the concerns created by building NSA's puzzle palace include that they didn't have enough locally available electricity to run the computers. Maybe Tennessee is providing that much electricity.

Do you think all 50 states have been sending their Guardsmen to war every day of this conflict? Look around. Every state and territory has sent some, but they do not stay continuously deployed as our Soldiers and Airmen have. Tennessee, along with Texas, Pennsylvania and New York, all live downrange until this thing is over. As in: over. That service requires support and pay.

We are also home to high-tech military installations for R&D like Oak Ridge and UTSI. In today's world, our Air Force related contributions to surveillance are more satellite than airplane. Our research and education efforts to space-based defense are a valid and important contribution to the nation.

When our tax base funded our state's military operations, it was funded much as most other law enforcement initiatives: squeaking by on the minimum required amount predicted by the previous years' budget.

Banking. Our conservative tax laws are a 1932 anachronism, and we are overjoyed that they are. We plan to keep it that way. So do the many corporations who need an office here to do business under the auspices of our tax laws.

Financial corporations with a direct interest in us include the US itself.

When they say 40% of our budget is "aid," ask yourself: how much of your paycheck is "aid"?

When others besides Governor Haslam's spin doctors look at the budget, that money is called "earned income." The Volunteer State makes a good part of its money from directly funding war. The money and services and goods we receive in exchange are not "aid" or welfare. They are payments.

A good part of that 40% of Tennessee's budget is made up in payments for services rendered.

August 20, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Ask yourself: Is the basis for their assertion observably true?

Based on the information they provided, one can't tell. They didn't tell us what the "40%" was. They just said it was, and some people just accepted it. Don't be a sucker.

The people providing you with those statistics, undefined and undescribed and unobservable statistics, want you to accept the answer they've laid in your path: that you are somehow to reason yourself into expecting a 30% cut in state government funding.

When you woke up this morning, before you saw someone try sucker you with this question, did you think you were getting 40% too much Federal funding for your state government?

Why was the question not, "What combination of cuts and tax increases do you think are a good idea for the tough times ahead?"

I'll tell you why: they're manipulating the public with loaded questions. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that tax increases and service cuts are needed together to address our budget problems.

Service cuts include a repeal of federal tax loopholes like the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy.

Instead of participating in a reasoned and centrist, practical approach to government, the Governor's spin doctors are trying to set us up to continue a Republican policy of safeguarding the ultra-wealthy. It sounds like a question put forward by Fox News, the entertainment wing of the Republican party.

Our national budget problems were created almost solely by the excessive personal greed and institutionalized financial crime of sycophants to the ultra-wealthy.

Our plan will need to include a forceful re-education of Republican politicians so that they realize that the people are in charge. Taking offices without election, paying cronies with tax dollars and ignoring basic civic responsibilities are not what we expect from office holders.

This article, and the question it frames, are based on the Governor's mini-version of the national budget problem, as it affects our state.

We need both tax increases and service cuts to address our budget problems. We reject the cut-only Republican plan.

August 20, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.