The Nashville Wrap

The previous post (Liveblogging Senate Ed) ended rather abruptly for a reason… a 20-minute recess was called, to reconvene at 10:55.  However, it seems that the House Education Committee was due to meet at 11, and expected some of the administration officials from the Senate Ed meeting to be present at their meeting.

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh stormed into the Senate meeting room just at the end of the recess with some harsh words about folks thinking the Senate committee is more important than the House committee… once he got back to the House meeting room, he reportedly closed the meeting.

Senate Ed was recessed for an additional 30 minutes by the only member present — now-Independent Mike Williams.  At 11:30, Chairman Woodson recessed the meeting until 3:30 p.m.

So, I had a couple of hours to hang out and talk, trying to discern what’s likely to happen with BEP 2.0 and the cigarette tax.  There seems to be consensus among several legislators I trust that the education proposal will pass, but passage of the cigarette tax is much less certain… meaning that ongoing funding is much less certain.

At 1:30, the House Education and Finance Committees met in joint session to hear roughly the same presentation as the Senate committee heard in the morning.  Unlike the Senate session though, there were questions from several committee members about why income is not considered in the new fiscal capacity formula.

Comptroller John Morgan and UT Economist Bill Fox explained, multiple times, that the new measure of a county’s ability to fund education locally is derived only from the property tax base and sales volume — they’re only measuring the ability to raise local revenue, which is defined by tax base.  They aren’t measuring service needs (number of students, at-risk students, etc.) in the fiscal capacity formula; those things are accounted for in the components part of the BEP.

After three and a half years of studying this thing, I can tell you it’s brilliant in its simplicity.  Needs are addressed on the component side, where they should be; the fiscal capacity formula is simple and transparent, without any political shenanigans hidden in a formula too complex for most people to begin to comprehend.

Morgan pointed out repeatedly that regression formulas sometimes have odd consequences; in the current formula, as tax base increases, fiscal capacity decreases (meaning the county appears less able to pay, rather than more able).  It’s just completely backwards of what it should be.

Income is a measure of an individual’s ability to pay, but the formula is to measure a county’s ability to raise revenue.  Unless the Legislature is going to grant counties the ability to impose a county income tax (bad idea), personal income isn’t a measure of a local government’s ability to raise revenue.  It’s related, but not a good measure.

I don’t know why it had to be asked so many times, but it was.  It was a thoroughly long day.
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Leaving the parking garage at the Sheraton, a blue SUV two cars ahead of me in the checkout line had an ACES bumper sticker just like mine — the one with the little red dinosaur, like the picture under my links that no longer goes anywhere.  I don’t know who it was, but I felt very excited to see the sticker there.

It’s amazing what four young parents can do.  Notice that we didn’t have a monster budget fight with the City this year?  I think they deserve some of the credit for that.

2 Responses to “The Nashville Wrap”


  1. […] Fatal flaw in the Bredesen’s BEP formula?: Income is a measure of an individual’s ability to pay, but the formula is to measure a county’s ability to raise revenue. Unless the Legislature is going to grant counties the ability to impose a county income tax (bad idea), personal income isn’t a measure of a local government’s ability to raise revenue. It’s related, but not a good measure. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  2. on 23 Jul 2011 at 11:54 am Nashville wrap | Zvision3d

    […] Citizen Netmom » The Nashville WrapThe previous post (Liveblogging Senate Ed) ended rather abruptly for a reason… a 20-minute recess was called, to reconvene at 10:55. However, it seems that the House Education Committee was due to meet at 11, and expected some of the administration officials from the Senate Ed meeting to be … Nashville City Paper… […]

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