Haslam applauds Williamson County Chamber at luncheon
By Skip Anderson, Managing Editor
Photo courtesy of Southern Exposure Magazine.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam lauded the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce for its contributions to the state’s job growth in recent years.
“What you are about is what I am about,” Haslam said at the chamber’s monthly membership luncheon May 13. “The numbers you show are phenomenal.”
Specifically, the governor cited the county’s 49 percent job growth over the past decade, which helped the state see a net gain of 28,000 jobs since the start of the Great Recession in 2008.
“That’s special,” Haslam said. “I appreciate that you do not rest on your laurels.”
He also stated that “Site Locator” magazine declared Tennessee to be the fourth-best state in the country to start new corporate headquarters, and “Barron’s” magazine declared it to be the third-best managed state in the country.
His administration’s advocacy for low taxes has fostered an atmosphere conducive to such recognition, he said. Specifically, he cited cutting grocery taxes by 10 percent, eliminating the inheritance tax over the next three years, and doing away with the gift tax.
“We want to be the location where taxes are low and cost of living is affordable,” he said.
The next step, he said, is to make sure the workforce is adequately educated for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Our job is to raise the standards across the state,” Haslam said. “Our graduation rates are up double-digits, so we’re making some real headway.”
But, he cautioned, “very few of the new jobs are going to be filled with people with high school diplomas.”
Thirty-two percent of people in Tennessee have at least an associate’s degree. “But 55 percent of the jobs will require [an associate’s degree] in the next 10 years.”
To address this discrepancy, his administration is strategically funding education programs in the fields where the jobs will be.
“It’s part of our job to allocate the funding accordingly,” he said.
Tennessee is participating in the Western Governors University (www.tennessee.wgu.edu), an online higher education institution that’s regionally accredited, and carries a tuition of about $6,000 per year, which is comparable to what an undergraduate would pay carry 16 hours each semester of an academic year at Middle Tennessee State University. WGU offers undergraduate degrees as well as master’s degrees in several disciplines.
“I am confident we are preparing our selves for the future,” Haslam said.
In the question-and-answer session that followed Haslam’s remarks, the governor addressed his veto of the controversial “AgGag” bill, that would have mandated individuals and organizations bring forth evidence of suspected animal abuse within 48 hours.
“There is a sense that the [agriculture] industry feels besieged,” he said.
But his advisors questioned the constitutionality of the bill, and that district attorneys “said it would be very hard to try try those cases,” he said. “For those reasons, I decided to veto that bill.”
Haslam also mentioned that, if passed into law, the AgGag bill could have a deleterious impact upon journalists and news organizations, who are generally protected by law from having to reveal sources and information to government officials.
Haslam also said he will likely soon sign into law a one-year moratorium on community annexations within the state.
Posted on: 5/13/2013