28,535 Jobs Created In Tennessee In 2011


NASHVILLE —  Governor Bill Haslam presented his State of the State / Budget Address to the General Assembly this week outlining his proposals for promoting job growth; improving education; enhancing public safety; providing a more customer-focused, efficient and effective state government; and, keeping taxes low.  Asking citizens to believe in better for Tennessee, the Governor said, “We can believe in better for how state government serves Tennesseans.  We can believe in better when it comes to the education of our children, and we can believe in better when we talk about a stronger, healthier economy for our state.”
The budget provides funding for the governor’s legislative proposals announced earlier in the year that include tougher sentences for certain gang-related crimes and gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions along with mandatory incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders.  The proposals also call for raising the exemption level on the estate tax in Tennessee from $1 million to $1.25 million to lower the tax burden on family farmers and family business owners; and lowering the state portion of the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent with the goal of reducing it to 5 percent during the next three years.
On jobs, the Governor said he is continuing efforts to attract new businesses to Tennessee by creating the right business climate, with the goal of making the state the number one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.  The budget provides an additional $10 million in FastTrack Infrastructure and the Job Training Program.  In addition, the administration is continuing a review of burdensome and business-inhibiting federal and state regulations.
The proposed 2012-2013 budget, which will begin on July 1, spends $31 billion, nearly $1 billion less than the almost $32 billion estimated for the current budget year.  Tennessee has worked hard to ‘resize’ state programs and services to reflect a much smaller budget, especially with the uncertainty of potential cuts from Washington.
Highlights of the budget include:

• Restores more than $100 million of the $160 million “core services” funding that was designated two years ago to be cut such as the Coordinated School Health program; extended teacher contracts; alcohol and abuse treatment programs; juvenile justice grants; diabetes prevention; and matching dollars for state employee 401k programs.

• Full funding for the Basic Education Program.

• $264 million is proposed to fund long-deferred capital outlay projects in higher education including a  new science building at Middle Tennessee State University; a science lab at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; a new patient diagnostic center at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis; plus planning money for new buildings at Nashville State Community College, Northeast State Community College, the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

• A 2.5 percent pay increase for state employees.

• Adds $50 million to the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it up to $356 million.

• A continued commitment to the West Tennessee Megasite with $25 million.

• More than $23 million to fund a new veterans home in Bradley County.
The complete text of the governor’s speech and an archived video of his speech are available at www.tn.gov/StateoftheState
Senate floor action includes final passage of Senator Beavers’ Meth Registry Bill and legislation to name National Guard Armory for First Lt. William Eric Emmert
The full Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) to tighten a loophole in the state’s Meth Registry.  Senate Bill 2190 adds those convicted of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine and those who initiated a process intended to result in the manufacture of meth to the state’s Registry.  In addition, the legislation requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to collect a driver’s license number or another identification number from those listed on the Registry so innocent citizens with similar names and birthdates do not run into a roadblock when they purchase pseudoephedrine.
In other floor action, the Tennessee National Guard Armory located at 2350 Armory Drive in Murfreesboro would be named the "First Lieutenant William Eric Emmert National Guard Armory" under legislation approved by the full Senate this week.  Senate Bill 2159 honors local hero, First Lieutenant Emmert, who was killed in the line of duty on February 24, 2009 while serving his country in Mosul, Iraq.  Emmert was a cum laude graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served as a counter intelligence agent during tours of duty in Korea, Germany, and Cuba.  He was also a Tennessee State Trooper in Lincoln County and a member of Governor Phil Bredesen’s security detail before joining the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as a special agent in the Criminal Investigation Division.
Report shows 28,535 jobs created in Tennessee in 2011
Best record of job creation in five years
A report released by the Tennessee Department of  Economic and Community Development (ECD) revealed good news this week on Tennessee’s job front.  The Department’s 2011 Annual Report showed 28,535 new jobs were created in Tennessee last year, accounting for more than $4 billion in investment. This is the state’s highest mark in job creation in the last five years.
The news follows the passage of several bills in the General Assembly last year aimed at attracting and retaining jobs by enhancing Tennessee’s business climate. This included offering businesses more predictability and a way to quantify risk through tort reform.  It also included new laws to improve education outcomes and a top to bottom review of the state’s business regulations with the goal of removing any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers which have stymied entrepreneurship.
Governor Haslam has stated his mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The Governor and key staff have traveled the state to meet with more than 2,000 companies and over 700 economic development stakeholders.
The Governor’s Jobs4TN economic development plan, announced in April 2011, has focused efforts on key sectors where the state holds a unique competitive advantage; along with a renewed emphasis on assisting existing Tennessee companies that create the vast majority of all new jobs in the state.  In addition, ECD was able to significantly lower the average cost of incentives per new job created compared to the previous decade.  In 2011, the average incentive cost per job was $2,640 versus $5,586 for the years 2002-2010, a reduction of more than 50 percent.
To read more or download a copy of ECD’s 2011 Annual Report, please visit tn.gov/ecd/pdf/2011AnnualReport.pdf.
Judiciary Committee approves bill to make criminal acts conducted by appointed or elected public officials ineligible for judicial diversion
The Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) has unanimously approved legislation which makes state or local officials who have committed a crime during their term of office ineligible for consideration of either pre-trial or judicial diversion.  Senate Bill 2566 would simply add a criminal offense committed by officials in the executive, legislative or judicial branch to the list of those which are ineligible for judicial diversion, if the crime was committed in their official capacity or involved the duties of their office.
Judicial diversion is a process in criminal law where a person pleads guilty to a crime and can later have the charge removed (or expunged) from their record following a period of probation.  It is granted by the judge, hence its name “judicial.”  A person is eligible for judicial diversion in Tennessee if the person does not have a previous class A misdemeanor, felony conviction, or never received diversion or had his or her record expunged before.  Those charged with a class A felony, a class B felony, a sexual offense, or a DUI are not eligible for judicial diversion under state law.