Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

Views from elsewhere in Tennessee

By: AP

The following is a roundup of recent editorials from Tennessee members of The Associated Press. In some cases, the editorials have been edited for length. They do not reflect an editorial position of the AP but represent the opinions of the newspapers from which they are taken. ———— The (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal, June 3 In a day when a college degree is almost required to get a decent job, Tennessee should consider higher education an investment in its future to build a better work force and attract higher-paying jobs. Instead, the state Legislature often looks at colleges and universities first when times get tough. Revenue came in lower than projected this year, and sure enough, the governor and lawmakers called on higher education to slice budgets by 5 percent, $56 million. This is a move backward for MTSU and every institution across Tennessee, in the race to keep up with the nation and world. The irony is that more students are being given the opportunity to attend college through the lottery’s HOPE Scholarship program at the same time higher education is being required to cut back. Eventually, it will trickle down and impact students. These problems aren’t unique to MTSU, either. Public colleges and universities across Tennessee are dealing with worn-out facilities, even as their enrollments are on the rise. MTSU’s situation is simply exacerbated by the fact that its enrollment increases about 500 to 1,000 each year as more high school graduates see the need to earn a diploma to improve their standing in the job market. When the state Legislature and governor grasp that concept, Tennessee’s higher education system can make a real move forward to invest in the future of the state’s bright, young minds. http://www.dnj.com/apps/pecs.dll/article?AID/20080603/OPINION01/806 030319/1 014/OPINION ———— They (Maryville) Daily Times, May 29 Two retiring members of the Tennessee General Assembly recently made an interesting and telling observation concerning an unfortunate trend. Both former Lt. Gov. John Wilder and Rep. Frank Buck expressed disappointment over the increased partisanship that has developed in the Tennessee legislature over the years. The two Democrats have been around long enough to know. They have a total of 70 years of legislative experience between them. The partisanship may have increased as Republicans have made gains over the years. Currently Democrats hold a 53-46 majority in the House and the Senate is split 16-16 with one independent. Sen. Wilder held the Senate speaker and lieutenant governor titles for 36 years until he lost to Republican Sen. Ron Ramsey of Blountville last year. Republicans apparently had the votes to have ousted Wilder from the post earlier but he had treated Republicans fairly, naming the chairmen of the various committees in the same proportion as each party had in Senate membership. That has never been the case in recent years in the House where the majority party has taken all the chairmanships. It is only fitting that each party has its own objectives and agenda in government at all levels and members of each party should work toward those goals. However, the significant thing is that we are all part of one big family. The most important thing is trying to do what is the very best for our county, state or nation. No individual or elected official has the “corner” on all the best ideas and it is very important that each of us considers the ideas of others and try to work together for the best of all of us. We can negotiate better solutions for better government without “selling our souls” or surrendering to anyone. http://www.thedailytimes.com/article/20080529/OP01/481038602 ———— The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle, June 2 The Oak Ridge National Laboratory knows how to throw a conference — with taxpayers picking up the tab. According to the Associated Press, a Department of Energy inspector general report says the lab spent $236,300 on food and beverages for 318 people attending a four-day conference it hosted in Boston last year. That is about 400 percent of the federal daily allowance. The auditors said for the four-day “Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing” conference in Boston, the lab interpreted a federally allowed $61-a-day meal rate as “up to $61 for breakfast, $61 for lunch and $61 for an evening event, as well as $24.40 for a morning break and $24.40 for an afternoon break.” The total came to more than $230 per person, per day. In an understatement, the auditors wrote, “(W)e found these meals to be upscale and elaborate.” No kidding. That extravagance is outrageous. This was not an isolated incident, either. All conferences sponsored by the Oak Ridge lab’s managing contractor, the University of Tennessee-Battelle Memorial Institute, from fiscal 2005-07 were reviewed. Among excesses were the particle accelerator conference in which $35,000 alone was spent on 1,200 executive pens with USB drives and another conference where a yacht club rental was $27,225. The list goes on and on. Other national laboratories have not racked up the kinds of entertainment expenses that Oak Ridge and its contractors have. Those in charge at Oak Ridge should either get spending under control, or Washington should find managers who can. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pecs.dll/article?AID/20080602/ OPINION0 1/806020304/1014/NEWS17 Published in The Messenger 6.6.08

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