Archive for the ‘lowe finney’ Category

Democrats Announce First Phase of Job Creation Legislation

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

jobs tour

Democrats announce first phase of jobs package to put Tennesseans back to work.


Plan includes $15 million investment in state technology centers

NASHVILLE – Tennessee House and Senate Democrats announced the first phase of their job creation plan Thursday, which includes calling for $15 million for new equipment and program expansion at the state’s 27 technology centers.

“We heard about the success of our skills training across the state during our jobs tour, but the one thing we heard again and again was the need for more skilled workers,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “This investment would enable our technology centers to train more workers faster and get them a good education with an even better job.”

The state’s technology centers’ average completion rate is 75 percent, and the job placement rate is 85 percent. They have been recognized as a national model, but currently only 4 percent of all higher education students in Tennessee attend a technology center.

“The thousands of manufacturing jobs that have come back to Tennessee need a highly skilled workforce. We have the structure to provide that workforce, but we must provide the resources to meet the capacity needs,” said House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh. Now is the time to make this investment, because it will pay dividends for our workers and our state for a generation.”

Other legislation discussed by Democrats Thursday included:

  • The creation of a commercial properties database for prospective employers to quickly identify potential areas for relocation and expansion;
  • Doubling the capacity of the West Tennessee solar farm by 2013 to keep up with national competition;
  • Providing small businesses a sales tax holiday of up to $5,000 for equipment purchases and upgrades;
  • Fully funding the West Tennessee megasite, in order to give the Grand Division the same opportunities afforded Chattanooga with Volkswagen and Clarksville with Hemlock;
  • Providing a New Entrepreneur Tax Credit for new business owners to recover startup and expansion costs; and
  • A program modeled after the Georgia Works initiative that allows employers to train Tennesseans receiving unemployment benefits, with the goal of providing trainees expanded job opportunities and the potential for a full-time job.

Democrats noted that the initiatives discussed Thursday were only the first phase of an ongoing, bipartisan process to identify ways state government can play a role in job creation.

“We are in a jobs crisis right now, and we need all hands on deck to help sail the ship through these choppy waters,” said Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney. “It’s going to take all of us working together to put Tennesseans back to work.”



Teacher Appreciation

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This week Republican lawmakers in Tennessee moved one step closer to silencing the voice of teachers — but they also took one step back.

Radical Republicans in the Senate passed a plan to do away with collective bargaining, banning teachers from advocating for instruction prep time, reasonable class sizes and more one-on-one instruction.

Sen. HerronBut the plan stalled Tuesday in a House committee. Now we have a chance to protect teachers’ rights and keep radical Republicans from setting our schools back four decades. We need to act fast.

Click here to call or email members of the House Education Committee. Tell them “collective bargaining works for Tennessee students!”

It’s a sad irony that attacks on educators come during Teacher Appreciation Week, a time when we should be honoring those who educate and inspire our youth.

Show teachers your appreciation by calling or emailing the House Education Committee and ask them to vote to protect teachers’ rights.

Many Tennesseans are shocked that their Republican representatives would work to weaken teachers’ rights and privatize education.

During impassioned speeches on Monday, Sens. Andy Berke, Roy Herron, Lowe Finney and Eric Stewart stood up for teachers and stood up for what is right.

Their words are encouraging and, after you call the House Education Committee, we want you to see what our senators said:

Sen. Andy Berke, District 10:

“We advance student achievement when we work together with teachers and stakeholders toward a common purpose, not when we attack them.”

Sen. Roy Herron, District 24:

There are things we need to do in education and all of them revolve around good quality teachers… For the life of me, I cannot see how taking away teachers’ voices on important issues encourages people to go into teaching.”

Sen. Lowe Finney, District 27:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we ought to be about the business of making teachers our partners because it’s going to affect those students who sit in that classroom.”

Sen. Eric Stewart, District 14:

“Teachers are expected to reach goals that are unattainable with resources that are often inadequate, but the miracle is most times they accomplish the impossible.”

Haslam’s move on economic development abandons past success

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

By State Sen. Lowe Finney

State Sen. Finney

State Sen. Lowe Finney

Gov. Bill Haslam’s announcement concerning the restructuring of the Department of Economic and Community Development came as a surprise to both of us, as well as to our constituents. The department is generally recognized as one of the best in the country, and Tennessee has repeatedly been named one of the top places in the nation for businesses, entrepreneurs and relocations. Now, Gov. Haslam indicates that his changes will make Tennessee the best place in the Southeast for jobs. We fear he is lowering the bar to claim success.

When Governor Phil Bredesen took office in 2003, one of the biggest criticisms of the previous administration was its inability to attract jobs from outside the state. So Gov. Bredesen focused on leveling the playing field for businesses to invest in Tennessee, no matter where they were from. As a result, the department brought in 200,000 jobs and more than $34 billion in economic investment. It is directly responsible for luring Volkswagen, Hemlock, Nissan, Wacker Chemie, Electrolux, Bridgestone and numerous other businesses to Tennessee. In a recession, Tennessee was creating jobs and attracting companies. As the national economy recovers, one would expect such efforts to reap even greater rewards.

But Gov. Haslam says that he can do better at growing jobs by cutting positions and focusing on in-state businesses, rather than attracting businesses from across the country to Tennessee. He has every right to do so, and we are cautiously optimistic that his plan will create jobs across the state. To be fair, however, we must note that Gov. Haslam is talking about focusing on the very companies that Gov. Bredesen attracted. Now, the governor is saying that if such opportunities present themselves in the future, he will not make it a priority to attract them to Tennessee. It’s the wrong message to send.

Our unemployment rate remains stagnant while the national rate declines. The administration just celebrated its first 100 days in office — yet if you lost your job on the day Gov. Haslam won his election, your unemployment benefits expired this week. There is no time for celebration. We should be doing everything we can to grow jobs in Tennessee, through a combination of working with established companies while continuing to convince new businesses to relocate here. Instead, the governor is cutting 71 positions, more than half of whom are community planners who typically assist communities in developing long-term economic plans. These services are invaluable in rural areas we serve, many of which have double-digit unemployment rates.

Gov. Haslam has not indicated how he will administer these services under his plan, and there has been no mention of whether cutting staff equates to cutting expenses. The governor has already given huge pay raises to many of his cabinet members, and he insists that it is the right thing to give these increases to them instead of veteran jobs-growth officials. We hope that he will at least save Tennessee taxpayers some money in the process.

When it comes down to it, the governor’s announcement is not a jobs plan. Instead, it amounts to chair shuffling in an attempt to refocus the state on job creation, while drawing attention away from bills that propose a state currency for Tennessee, attack teachers and disenfranchise voters. There is no doubt that such a move is needed during a legislative session that has been about anything but jobs. But never forget that when watching a magician perform, it’s not the hand he is waving so dramatically that is performing the trick. It is his other hand that is creating the illusion. In the case of the governor’s proposals, the hand he is not waving is in your pocket.