Apr 26 2011

100 Days of Less than Little

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

TN Gov. Bill Haslam

Yesterday, TN Gov. Bill Haslam celebrated his first 100 days in office with, what else, a snazzy press release.

This first 100 has been busy folks, not so much for the Governor, who has been more than willing to sit idly by as the more firebrand members of his party run the state from the General Assembly.

In the mean time, the good Governor has been biding his time, coming up with press releases, like the one from yesterday, taking credit for things that as a candidate, he might want to distance himself from.

But now, with three years before he has to tap daddy’s war chest again for campaign cash, Haslam is trying to deal with being overshadowed, and look good doing it.

Here’s his list of “accomplishments”:

• Proposing a strategic legislative package that focuses on economic development through education reforms targeted at creating a well-educated workforce and ensuring an attractive business environment in Tennessee;

• Signing his tenure reform legislation into law;

• Announcing a $40 million public-private charter school growth fund;

• Proposing a balanced state budget that is $1.8 billion less than the previous year’s budget;

• Proposing a 1.6 percent salary increase for state employees after four years without one;

• Announcing a Jobs4TN plan that identifies four key strategies which include:

    1. prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries;
    2. assisting existing Tennessee businesses with expansion and competitiveness,
    3. supporting regional and rural economic development strategies as well as investing in innovation and reducing business regulation;
    4. Announcing a top-to-bottom review of the department of Economic and Community Development as a pilot process for other state departments and agencies to follow;

• And conducting a thorough review of state rules and regulations.

What he didn’t focus on, and for good reason, are the real consequences of these “actions”, some of which a new blogger on the block helpfully laid out for us.

But what Haslam leaves out is, perhaps, the most important part of his presser.

He conveniently forgets that he started the ball rolling with an Executive Order exempting himself and his cronies from income disclosures.

He ignores the fact that he, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, have allowed the Tennessee Ethics Commission the body that might hear claims against this executive order, has been has been without a quorum for the entirety of his 100 days, something that Democrats on the hill have managed to miss over and over again.

He’s pushing to keep people from holding corporations responsible for their actions, ultimately hurting the very people who have already been hurt, once again, in the name of job creation, an erroneous assertion at best.

He ignores the 32% pay raises he’s given his cabinet, while handing out a piddling 1.6% to hard working employees, or worse pink slips as economic development strategy.

He made it tougher for teachers to teach without worrying about getting let go for making too much, and makes it harder for teachers to negotiate a fair wage for their service…something that will most certainly result in fewer teachers overall, and the best of the best leaving the state for greener pastures.

Oh yeah, that Jobs plan? All those closures are hurting rural areas, already suffering from around 14% unemployment, more than anyone else.

Truth be told, aside from enriching his cronies, and hiding his wealth, Haslam hasn’t done much. The heavy lifting has been done by the legislature, who is pushing the envelope even further than he’s comfortable with. This may be why he’s ready for them to head to the house.

At the end of the day, Gov. Haslam has fully ensconced himself as the Gubernatorial Spokesmodel, rather than the Chief Executive of the state. Until he decides to do more than roll over for the more radical elements in his party, he’ll continue to be nothing more than that.