Blackburn, Fleischmann Land Important Positions on U.S. House Committees

Representative Blackburn PhotoRepresentative Fleischmann Photo

This week, two members of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation were appointed to positions on key committees of interest to the University of Tennessee and the State of Tennessee.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) was appointed to serve as Vice Chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.  This committee is especially important to the University and the state given its authority and oversight of key energy programs, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and overall U.S. Energy policy.  Blackburn has served on this committee and some of its critical subcommittees for several years.  She is currently the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, and serves on the Subcommittee on Oversight, Subcommittee on Health and Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Appointed to the House Appropriations Committee was Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga).  Fleischmann’s appointment to this committee will well position Tennessee’s interests before national policymakers.  The committee is widely known as one of the House’s most powerful.  Fleischmann is an alumnus of the UT College of Law.

“The appointment of Blackburn and Fleischmann to these committees will reap great benefits for the people of Tennessee.  The importance of these two committees to the areas of research, economic development, and quality of life issues cannot be overstated.  We are very happy with the appointments of both members and look forward to working with them in their new capacity in the next legislative session,” said Anthony Haynes, UT Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy.

The 113th Congress convenes in January, where Blackburn and Fleischmann will assume these new leadership positions.

THEC Approves Higher Education Budget Recommendations

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) met today for their quarterly meeting where they approved the FY 2013-14 operating and capital budget recommendations to be submitted to the General Assembly and the Governor this coming year. The Governor’s hearing and subsequent approval by THEC represent the first steps in formulating the Governor’s budget proposal.

The THEC operating budget recommendation includes a $35.5 million increase in state appropriations to fund the growth in the outcomes based formula, and a $14.1 million increase for program initiatives and operating costs at non-formula units. Now in its third year of implementation, the outcomes based funding formula as outlined in the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010 replaced enrollment figures as the basis for THEC’s funding recommendations. The $35.5 million represents a new infusion of dollars into the funding formula irrespective of the proposed budget reductions submitted by the Administration.

The recommended capital budget includes two major UT projects.  These projects account for $135.9 million (or 47%) of the recommended total budget of $289.1 million. The first UT capital project on THEC’s priority list is the UT Health Science Center’s renovation to the Crowe, Nash, and Mooney Building Complex.  The complex will house administrative offices and research laboratories.

The second UT project, ranked fifth on THEC’s priority list, would provide a new multidisciplinary science laboratory facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  The building would be located at the intersection of Cumberland Avenue and 13th Street and would house research and teaching laboratories, associated support services, faculty and departmental offices, and a vivarium.

Regarding capital maintenance, THEC’s recommendation for the University of Tennessee amounts to $44.3 million (or 42%) of the total recommended $104.8 million.  Last fiscal year, higher education received a total of $71.4 million in capital maintenance funding, representing the largest investment in capital maintenance since 2004-05.

A note on the budget:  The Governor’s budget proposal will be presented to the legislature in late January.  Budget discussions amongst the legislature will occur thereafter, the final budget passing in the spring.  The UT Board of Trustees will consider tuition matters in June 2013, a decision largely based on the actual appropriations provided by the state.

Copies of THEC’s operating and capital budget recommendations are available for download.

Higher Education Budget Hearing Highlights UT Strengths, Needs

Governor Bill Haslam held his final round of budget hearings yesterday, November 13.  Present for testimony were UT President Joe DiPietro, Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, and Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Rich Rhoda.  THEC’s state funding recommendation for FY 2013-14 included a $35.5 million dollar increase for higher education.  The increase would be a welcome change due to the dramatic decline in public funding for higher education that has occurred over the last ten years.

Per the Governor’s request, THEC also prepared a contingency plan for higher education funding which included a 5% budget reduction.  This request was not unique to higher education–all state agencies were asked to submit such plans.  It has been noted by the Governor that if these cuts are implemented they will not be uniform across each state agency.  Based on the funding recommendation provided by THEC,  a six percent tuition increase for Tennessee’s public universities was recommended for FY 2013-14.  A three percent increase was recommended for community colleges and technology centers.

President DiPietro’s testimony centered around three critical higher education areas: quality, access, and affordability.  Some notable points from his testimony are below.

Quality
Over the last five years, the UT System has increased the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by 21.4% and graduate degrees by 12.4%.  UTK and UTM have the state’s highest graduation rates amongst public universities, with UTC holding the state’s fourth highest rate.  The UT System is producing more graduates in STEM areas, with an increase of 29% in the last five years.  Our campuses are regularly recognized for quality by independent organizations such as US News and World Report and the Princeton Review, and this year is no different.  In fact, UTK is now ranked 46th in US News and World Report (up one spot from last year), UTC was named a “Best Value” by US News, and UTM was ranked a “Best in Southeast” by the Princeton Review while having the state’s highest student satisfaction rates.

Access
UT continues to focus on access and a diverse student body.  Through the UT Martin Centers in McNairy County, Jackson, Parsons and Ripley, rural counties in Middle and West Tennessee are connected to the University. Due to these centers, 900 students have initiated their pursuit of higher education and subsequently graduated from UTM.  Online degree programs have also provided increased access.  The UT System has 63 academic programs that are completely online.  Combined, these programs enroll over 5,300 students.

Affordability
Tennessee college graduates have the 9th lowest debt burden in the nation.  At UT’s undergraduate campuses, student debt has gone down some 13% over the last five years.  While tuition has increased, campuses have kept net cost (cost after application of merit and need based aid) to students at relatively low levels.

At the hearing, President DiPietro requested that the Governor consider higher education funding with increased weights for STEM degree production.  He also highlighted the need for an increased appropriation for UT’s Non-Formula Units.  One of the last topics addressed by the President was faculty and staff compensation.  While other state agencies receive full funding for salary increases, higher education does not, requiring 40-50% of these funds to be generated through tuition.  President DiPietro articulated that UT seeks full state funding of these salary increases and flexibility for administering them.

The Governor’s budget proposal will be presented to the legislature in late January.  Budget discussions amongst the legislature will occur thereafter, the final budget resulting in the spring.  The UT Board of Trustees will consider tuition matters in June 2013, a decision largely based on the actual amount of appropriations provided by the state.

To view the archived video of the hearing, click here.  For more information about the recommended budget, visit the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s website.

2012 General Election Wrap Up

The 2012 General Election was historic on a number of levels, the most notable being that the nation’s first African-American President was re-elected. Tennessee moved opposite of the nation’s popular vote and elected a super majority to both the state house and senate. Tennesseans did mirror the national trend of rural areas and counties supporting the Republican nominee for President, and urban areas supporting the Democratic nominee.

In Tennessee, the outcome of Republican-led redistricting combined with the low popularity of President Obama enabled Republicans to increase their numbers in the state house from 65 to 70 (of 99) and in the state senate from 20 to 26 (of 32). This super majority will render Democrats powerless in procedurally stopping or advancing any measures against the will of the Republicans.

Tennessee’s Congressional delegation remained unchanged. Senator Bob Corker (R) easily won re-election as did Representatives Roe, Duncan, Fleischmann, Cooper, Black, Blackburn, Fincher and Cohen. Representative DesJarlais won a challenge from State Senator Eric Stewart after a hard fought and often negative campaign.

There are several expectations regarding how the election’s outcome may affect various University interests and activities. Our federal research priorities and focus areas of interest should remain largely unchanged. What will likely change is the funding levels for any number of these areas. As budget discussions move forward during both the Lame Duck Session and into the new Congress next year, various program funding levels are expected to decline as a result of budget negotiations. The Obama Administration will likely continue to advance a national energy policy and agenda with major emphasis on research and production of various forms of alternative energy. This focus should help minimize adverse impacts to UT’s ongoing research interest in these areas, but funding reductions should be expected. Other areas such as agricultural and forestry research, weather services and modeling, and health and medical research are but a few programs that may be targeted for reductions.

At the state level, there will be 22 first-time House members and 6 first-time Senators. This presents both a challenge and opportunity to the higher education community. It will be critical to educate these new members on a host of issues and funding matters facing the University. Active advocacy by alumni, students, faculty, and staff will become increasingly important. In the Senate, Committees will likely reduce the representation of Democrats from 3 to 2 members. In the House, Speaker Harwell will be considering a new Chair and Vice Chair for the House Education Committee given the primary defeat of Richard Montgomery and election of Joey Hensley to the Senate.

Click here to view a profile of newly elected legislators. If you are not registered on our advocacy network, click here to sign up and stay informed.

Election 2012: New Members of the TN General Assembly

Note: This listing of new members is based on unofficial election returns provided by the Tennessee Department of State.  The list will be updated as needed based on final election results as reported by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Tennessee House of Representatives: New Members

Timothy Hill (R), House District 3
Hill is a graduate of TriCities Christian School, Northeast State Community College and East Tennessee State University.  Holding a degree in Public Relations, Hill has worked in local radio and in Washington, D.C. as Press Secretary & Communications Director for former Congressman David Davis.  He owns Right Way Marketing.

James ‘Micah’ Van Huss (R), House District 6
Van Huss resides in Sulphur Springs with his wife, Annie.  He graduated from Pensacola Christian College in 2003 with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science.  Van Huss has served in the U.S. Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq three times and Afghanistan once during the last six years.  Micah was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for saving the lives of Marines and Iraqi civilians in Fallujah, Iraq in 2007.

Tilman Goins (R), House District 10
Goins currently resides in Morristown with his wife, Lenka, and son, Tilman III.  He has served in both the US Marine Corps (1996-2001) and the US Army (2001-2004), and currently serves on the Hamblen County Commission. Goins earned an A.S. in History/Geography from Walters State Community College and both a B.A. in International Affairs and a B.S. in History from East Tennessee State University.

Dale Carr (R), House District 12
Carr is a graduate of Sevier County High School.  He has served on the Sevierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen since 2005.  He is a Founder and Partner at Thompson Carr Auction.  In the community, Carr has served as a volunteer fireman and Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club of Sevier County.  He has been married to his wife, Jo Ann, for 38 years.

Gloria Johnson (D), House District 13
Gloria Johnson holds a degree in Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Johnson is employed by the Knox County School System and has over 24 years of experience in educating special needs children.  In 2009 and again in 2011, Johnson was elected to serve as Chairwoman of the Knox County Democratic Party.

Andrew Farmer (R), House District 17
A native of Sevier County, Farmer holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Marketing from East Tennessee State University and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  Farmer owns a solo-practice law firm and title company and previously interned for the Tennessee Supreme Court.  He lives in Sevierville with his wife, Mariah.

Mike Carter (R), House District 29
Carter resides in Ooltewah with his wife, Joan.  Carter holds a B.S. in Pre-Law from Middle Tennessee State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis.  In 1997, he was appointed as Judge of the General Sessions Court of Hamilton County by Governor Don Sundquist.  Carter also served as Special Assistant to the County Mayor during the term of Claude Ramsey, who now serves as Deputy Governor of the State of Tennessee.

Ron Travis (R), House District 31
A native of East Tennessee, Travis and his family reside in Dayton.  He has worked in the insurance business for over 30 years, operating agencies in five East Tennessee counties.  He and his wife, Laura, have two daughters. Travis is a member of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet Dayton, and the First United Methodist Church in Dayton.

Kent Calfee (R), House District 32
Calfee served on the Roane County Commission from 1986-2006.   A graduate of Roane County High School, Calfee attended East Tennessee State University.  He is now retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he worked as a Quality Representative.  He and his wife, Marilyn, have four children and six grandchildren and reside in Kingston, TN.

Dawn White (R), House District 37
A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, White holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and Education Specialist in Administration and Supervision.  She worked as a kindergarten teacher in Murfreesboro for seven years, and then became a small business owner.  White lives in Murfreesboro with her husband, Chad.

William Lamberth (R), House District 44
Lamberth is the Assistant District Attorney of Sumner County.  He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a Juris Doctorate from the College of William and Mary.  He currently serves as the Treasurer of the Republican Party of Sumner County, President of the Gallatin Rotary Club, and as Chairman of the Portland Community Education Foundation.  He and his wife, Lauren, have two children.

Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers (R), House District 45
A resident of Sumner County, Rogers holds a B.S. in International Relations with a Certificate in Soviet Studies from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.  She has served in the United States Air Force and Air Force Reserve for 28 years, earning the rank of Lt. Colonel.  Rogers is a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee.  She and her husband, Mike, have three children.

Bo Mitchell (D), House District 50
Bo Mitchell, a graduate of David Lipscomb University and the Nashville School of Law lives in Bellevue, Tennessee with his wife, Chastity, and two sons Parker (6) and Brady (4). He has served on the Nashville Metro Council for District 35 since 2007 and previously worked for Governor Phil Bredesen and former State Senator Pete Springer.

Jason Powell (D), House District 53
Jason Powell, a native of Nashville, graduated from the University of Colorado and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Tennessee State University. Powell currently serves as the Director for CHASCo, the Coalition for Healthy and Safe Campus Communities, a statewide partnership of public and private universities dealing with various issues. Powell currently lives in Nashville with his wife, Heather and daughter, Sophie.

Susan Lynn (R), House District 57
Lynn served in the State House of Representatives from 2002-2010.  During her tenure, she served as Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee and as a member of the House Calendar and Rules Committee, the House Commerce Committee, the Small Business Subcommittee, the Budget and Tax Reduction Task Force, and the Ethics, Open Government and Election Law Task Force.  Lynn holds a B.S. in Economics.  She currently serves as Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Commerce Task Force and owns Regulatory Compliance Group.

Harold Love (D), House District 58
Love holds a B.S. in Economics and Finance from Tennessee State University and a Masters in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University.  Since 2002, he has served as the Pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville.  He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Tennessee State University Foundation, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in  Public Administration.

Darren Jernigan (D), House District 60
Upon graduation from Hunters Lane High School in 1988, Jernigan received Political Science and Public Relations degrees from Austin Peay State University.  Jernigan interned for the U. S. Department of State and worked for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.  prior to completing a Masters degree in Criminal Justice at Middle Tennessee State University.  Jernigan has previously served as an appointed Commissioner of the Old Hickory Utility District, was elected as a Democratic Committeeman, and was elected to the Metro Nashville City Council. He and his wife Michelle Morse Jernigan have four children.  He is a member of the Occupational Therapy Board at Belmont University, Old Hickory Masonic Lodge, and the Tennessee Disability Coalition.  He serves as the Director of Government Affairs for Permobil, Inc.

Jeremy Durham (R), House District 65
Durham resides in Franklin with his wife, Jessica.  He is a partner at Hawkins, Durham & Associates where he primarily focuses on small business law.  Durham graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2006.  He received his law degree from the University of Memphis.  Jeremy has served as Chairman of the Tennessee Young Republicans and founded the Tennessee Young Republicans PAC.

Barry Doss (R), House District 70
Doss is a native of Lawrence County.  He holds a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee and currently serves as President at Doss Brothers Construction Company.  He previously served on the Lawrence County Commission, and has also served on the Lawrenceburg Planning Committee, Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Columbia State Community College Board of Directors.

Mary Littleton (R), House District 78
A longtime Dickson, resident, Littleton has 20 years of experience in small business as co-owner of Littleton Trucking. She serves on the Dickson County Sanitation Board and the Planning and Zoning Board. She has been an active member of the American Cancer Society, the High Noon Rotary Club, and has served as vice chairman and as a State Executive Committee member of the Tennessee Republican Party. Married to husband Tony, Littleton attends the Pond Church of Christ.

Debra Moody (R), House District 81
Moody and her husband have four children.  She has served as Chairman of the Tipton County Republican Party and as a member of the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee.  She is Chairman of the Board for Confidential Care for Women and Co-Chairman on the National Day of Prayer (Tipton County). Moody attended Arkansas State University and the University of Memphis.  She is an active supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Roger Kane (R), House District 89
Kane, a Knoxville resident, holds a B.A. in Business Administration and History Education from the University of Houston.  He has worked with Farmers Insurance since 1988.  Kane is a licensed instructor with Kaplan Financial.  He has twice been elected the president of the Greater Karns Business Association and has served on the Karns High School Foundation Board.  Two of his children have participated in athletics at the University of Tennessee.  His youngest daughter, who started college this past fall, is a majorette at UTK.

Billy Spivey (R), House District 92
Spivey previously served as Chairman of the Marshall County Commission.  He and his wife have six children. He is a combat veteran and served during Desert Storm.  Spivey currently works as Maintenance Supervisor at Walker Die Casting.  On the issues, Spivey’s campaign website states, “I will never support a tax increase to fund the state budget shortfall and instead will demand state agencies reduce spending.”  He further notes, “We should limit government spending to no more than population growth and inflation.”

Tennessee Senate: New Members

Frank Niceley (R), Senate District 8
Niceley, a farmer from Strawberry Plains, served as a state representative during the 96th-97th and 104th-107th General Assemblies.  During his tenure, he served as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and as a member of the House Conservation and Environment Committee, the House Calendar and Rules Committee, and the House General Subcommittee of Agriculture.  He holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Niceley is a member of Tennessee Farm Bureau.

Todd Gardenhire (R), Senate District 10
Gardenhire currently serves as a Senior Vice President for Morgan Stanley.  He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and has a background in public service.  He served in White House Advance Operations under President Reagan and was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Pension Benefit Guaranty.  Gardenhire has served on the U.S. Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council, including a term as Chairman.

IMG_9257_retouchedJanice Bowling (R), Senate District 16
Bowling is a graduate of Auburn University.  Locally, she has served on the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Alderman for over ten years.  She has been involved in a number of political campaigns and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004.  She serves on the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee.

Ferrell Haile (R), Senate District 18
Haile is a small business owner, farmer, and pharmacist from Sumner County.  He is a graduate of Lipscomb University and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  Haile serves as a board member of the Sumner County Health Department and as a member of the Tennessee Pharmacist Association.  He is a member of the Tennessee Cattleman’s Association and Tennessee Farm Bureau, and has formerly served an appointed term in the Tennessee State Senate.

Dr. Steve Dickerson (R), Senate District 20
Dickerson is a physician and founding partner of Anesthesia Services Associates.  He holds a B.A. in History from the University of the South and a medical degree from Wake Forrest University.  Dickerson currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia and in 2009 was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Medical Laboratories.  He resigned from this position to run for State Senate.

Dr. Mark E. Green (R), Senate District 22
Green currently serves as the President and CEO of Align MD and is an active practicing physician.  He is a graduate of West Point, a 16-year Army veteran, and has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds a Masters Certificate from the University of Southern California in Information Systems and a medical degree from Wright State University.  His military awards include the Bronze Star and the Air Medal, amongst others.  Green states that would “require that no education legislative initiative be passed without first including input from front line teachers at all levels of the education system.”

John Stevens (R), Senate District 24
Stevens resides in Huntingdon with his wife and two daughters.  He is an attorney in private practice.  Stevens holds a Bachelors from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis.  He was appointed to the Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy by Governor Bill Haslam, and the Post-Conviction Defender Oversight Commission by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.  He formerly served as a legislative liaison under Governor Don Sundquist.

Dr. Joey Hensley (R), Senate District 28
Hensley served as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives during the 103rd through 107th General Assemblies.  During his tenure, he was a member of the House Health and Human Resources Committee, the House Education Committee, and the House Health and Human Resources Subcommittee.  He also served as Chairman of the House Education Subcommittee and as the Republican Caucus Treasurer.  He is a physician, holding degrees from Columbia State Community College, the University of Memphis, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.