Last night’s Midtown Republican Club meeting was one of the most emotional we’ve ever had.
Not because of the guest, State Rep. Mark White, who is a thoughtful and sincere man. Rather, the issues of Obamacare, the fiscal cliff and Memphis politics took center stage.
White expressed his regret at Romney’s loss. He had, as many of us had, expected a win. White said that Romney had a 500 day plan ready to go on the economy, plus people lined up and ready to go to make things happen. He lost and “that’s where we are,” White said.
At least Tennessee Republicans gained a supermajority in the legislature with 70 out of 99 reps being Republican and 26 of 33 senators Republican. “We met a week ago last Monday in Nashville and named Beth Harwell speaker of the House. We resume January 8 and want to be ready to hit the ground running.”
Our budget looks good. “In the past 12 months we have taken in more money – $550 million more,” White said, than we spent. “According to Barron’s we are in the top three of states with balanced budget sheets. We have a AAA bond rating and want to have a rainy day fund.
“Last year we succeeded in getting rid of the death tax so people with money will stay in the state; got rid of the gift tax; and lowered the tax on groceries. We are trying to make Tennessee a very pro business state.”
Not surprisingly, jobs and economic development are at the top of the list for Republican issues this term. But in order for more businesses to come here, we need education reform, White said.
“Last year we did a ‘Wisconsin’ and took away collective bargaining for teachers. We changed teacher tenure from 3 years to 5 so it wouldn’t be an automatic thing, but something earned. We boosted Charter schools legislation because we’re trying to put competition in education. For industries to come in here we’ve got to make Tennessee attractive. For instance, there’s an orthopedic business corridor in Bartlett. They have lots of jobs but no people with math skills. Education reform can change that.”
The audience understood and agreed with a lot of what he said. It’s in Part 2 that things erupted.