Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Everybody's ready to control spending, not saying much about social issues

The Tennessean gave some op-ed space for what January holds when the 106th General Assembly of Tennessee convenes. House Republican leader Jason Mumpower is sending a clear signal that his party is prepared to assume leadership and control spending, but he is noticeably quiet on social issues. Hmmm.

We must live within our means and get spending under control. Increasing taxes on hard-working Tennesseans is not the answer. We need to cut wasteful spending, slow the growth of a ballooning government, and balance this budget just as any Tennessee family does their checkbook.

House Democratic leader Gary Odom is more specific on the budget while maintaining Mumpower's reticence on the culture war:

The most ominous challenge we face this year is the greatest revenue shortfall in our state's recent history. The state faces a budget crisis that could lead to a $600 million shortfall in projected revenue by the end of this fiscal year. This is on top of more than $500 million in anticipated revenue that was cut earlier this year. The budget shortfall will require the experience and knowledge of members of both parties working together to ensure that these challenges are addressed in a responsible manner.

Shaka Mitchel of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research would agree with Mumpower and Odom, but offers this warning just to be sure:

Similarly, squandering your political capital on abortion and illegal immigration resolutions that aren't really state issues and have no chance of becoming law would be an irresponsible use of the powers entrusted to you by voters.

All politicians would do well to remember that while the goal of campaigning is getting elected, the purpose of elected office itself is being a responsible steward of powers put in your care.

Finally, the changeover in Tennessee is an indication voters just want to be left alone. It has been said that most bad government results from too much government. Republicans at the national level found that to be true when they strayed from their principles and quickly became the minority party. Republicans at the state level should not forget that lesson.

The Tennessean offers basically the same advice urging restraint on social issues:

It would be a mistake to use newfound power to flex muscles over social issues like abortion and guns. A few lawmakers may be chomping at the bit to aggressively push such issues to the fore. The public will be better served if the legislature keeps sensible priorities and shows the best possible performance in managing the budget and working in ways all Tennesseans deserve.

Amen to that. I'm not holding by breath on that one, though.

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